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Last night Techcrunch held their 2nd annual Crunchy awards. The evening was a near mirror image of last year’s event. Sixteen awards were given and big congratulations go out to all of the winners. CBS Interactive’s Josh Lowensohn attended the event and has a good recap of each of the awards handed out in San Francisco.
I kept notes on each of the winners from my office in NYC on a scratchpad. I’d like to share some of my general thoughts about the event.
The first award went to Google Reader for best web application. Accepting the award was Marissa Mayer from Google. In a company that has many thousands of employees and a Google Reader team that probably has more than a dozen employees, did Marissa really need to accept the award? It’s clear from past experiences that Google is a very controlling company when it comes to their public face, but why not let someone actually on the Google Reader team have the spotlight. One of my Twitter followers wondered if she was asked by the Crunchies to accept to make sure a woman accepted at least one award. I don’t buy that – I think it’s just Google’s controlling behavior at work.
During the Crunchies event, there were 3 “quick Q&A” and VentureBeat’s Matt Marshall spoke with Mayer. It immediately became apparent to me and the Twitter audience that the questions were staged (for all of the Q&A bits) because Matt started to joke around (seemingly off the script) about cupcakes and when he switched back, Marissa started to answer before Matt even finished his question. Why does Marissa get such fluff interviews? Back at LeWeb, Marc Canter called the interview fluff and last night’s discussion was fluff as well. I don’t know if Marissa demands easy questions but there are plenty of topics that the people in the audience care about. Techcrunch writer Steve Gillmore has been very vocal lately about FeedBurner – why not ask her about that? There are plenty of other topics as well that the audience and the Ustream viewers care about.
Let’s now move to location… that is, where does your company need to be located to win a Crunchy? Loic LeMeur noted on stage that there was only one award given to an international company and all of the companies in that category were from Europe. LeMeur has a longer post today about the valley vs. non-valley topic with regards to the awards show.
As each winner was announced, I took a look at where the company is located and noted it on my scratch pad. Every single startup company, outside of the international award which went to eBuddy, went to a company in California. In fact, all of the award winners are located in Silicon Valley except GitHub which is located near San Diego. Take a minute and think about that…not one company won from NYC, Chicago, Denver, Boulder, St. Louis, Portland or anywhere in between. Internationally, Techcrunch runs blogs in France, UK and Japan and there was no winners from any of those locations or any other city around the world except one winner from Amsterdam.
Does all of the “great” Web technology only come out of California? Absolutely not. I am going to have a lot more on this topic early next week.
Dennis Howlett made a comment that’s worth repeating. “If they were being honest then the Crunchies would be renamed as the Consumer Crunchies”. In fact you should read his Twitter stream for some good, honest commentary on the overall event. He’s right and when I looked at the nominees last month I was disappointed that the only startups in the running were those who basically get pushed around in the early adopter crowd. Where are all of the (()#@*&^%% companies that are creating real value for their users and have business models? Where are the web utility companies? I could name 100 companies that deserved to win an award last night. We see this behavior on a daily basis from the valley and I will have more on this topic as well next week.
In closing, it’s great that Techcrunch puts on this award show and gives the community a chance to celebrate their combined success. My hope is that for their 2010 show they will consider some of the points above and make some positive changes which will benefit the Web community worldwide.
Tonight is the Crunchies awards show in San Francisco. You can keep refreshing this page to see the winners in real-time, we will bring them to you immediately as they are announced. The event begins at 7pm Pacific Time. Rachel Sterne (no relation) is doing some interviews – she’s from Ground Report. You will get me real color commentary here people! :) Newest is on top:
10:30 (1:30AM eastern) – Ok, I am done. Goodnight all.
10:24 – Ben Metcalfe says that there was a lot of negativity in the twitter about the event – though after they thought the cameras weren’t rolling Ben said, “see i told you i’d bring the controversy” LOL :) Ben rocks.
10:23 – Mike says they did some things right and some wrong – wants it to 1 hr next year – personally I disagree - I may write more when I am back awake tomorrow :) Mike loves a recession except that people lose their jobs
10:19 – I am a bit disappointed that they only interviewed people “connected” – would have been nice to do it like they did the TC party where anyone could come talk to us – we hear enough shilling day in and day out
10:10 – Personally I would love for Sarah to stop doing her pop snap thing – it just doesn’t help the image, sorry.
10:09 – Zivity says she isn’t leaving private beta until 2009 but somehow was big enough to get a nom? asks the chat room – she also said she’s looking to build a community that respects women and embraces “artistic qualities” – whatever that means.
9:53 – how did Tesla win considering they don’t even have a car made yet? – says the chatroom
9:50 – apparently Netvibes has a new version coming out tuesday at 5am – it’s with “the press” – which clearly does not include CN :(
9:49 – people in the chat room wondering how companies win awards in private beta
9:42 – iMedix – worth the flight from Israel to be here to win – they have been working 24/7 in the hotel – adhd most popular term on their site
9:40 – Seth from Meebo – he says fantastic 4 times – they are working on some kind of sync platform for developers to make it really great – and putting their stuff on island and def jam records
9:33 – MC Hammer comes over – shills the f out of dancejam – he believes they are creating something great around dance – shills his team – looks like he is wearing a 2 foot rabbit or bear around his neck – chat room going crazy for it – no one can figure out what that is – he belives dancejam is a “comfortable place” – he also says anything goes – hes a friend of mogulus – i guess thats why he gets a 10 minute interview!
9:30 – Sarah Lacy says she’s glad that Facebook won 2 of the biggest awards, she was surprised and shocked that WordPress won, surprised Slide didn’t win anything
9:28 – the show is over now – Mike ended it quickly and swiftly – that was shocking says the chat room
Winner – Facebook
BEST NEW STARTUP
Winner – iMedix
BEST CEO AWARD
Winner – Toni Schneider – Auttomatic
BEST FOUNDER AWARD
Winner – Mark Zuckerberg – Facebook
BEST TECHNOLOGY INNOVATION
Winner – Earthmine
9:09 – Mike thanks the sponsors
9:05 – another video – this time something about words of wisdom – it seemed like shilling not words of wisdom
MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED
Winner – WordPress
8:59 – first time i’ve ever seen this – man reading notes off the treo and can’t remember any of it
BEST BUSINESS MODEL
Winner – Zazzle
8:57 – Disappointed that Richard posted all of the winners before they were announced :(
BEST INTERNATIONAL STARTUP
Winner – Netvibes
BEST MOST LIKELY TO SAVE THE WORLD
Winner – Donors Choose
8:39 – Dan Farber asks the hosts questions:
Erick – he was surprised that they asked their audiences to come up with the initial nominees and then vote on the winners – they wanted to be like Digg – they found it wasn’t so easy – there was a lot of gaming – in the ends we put our heads together – so the people did NOT pick the winners apparently (Rafe says via Twitter he thinks people did pick the winners but they picked the finalists)
Om – working too much is a killer app – he likes twitter
Matt – he was surprised by all the action in advertising – wonders if advertising will work in the downturn
Richard – he likes the number of international products that are part of the event
Mike – we are seeing less and less exciting stuff – no intriguing business models coming out now – he looks forward to coming back to exciting
8:38 – based on my post and your feedback on what is a startup, is techmeme a startup still? service is great, but is it still considered a startup?
BEST BOOTSTRAPPED STARTUP
Winner – TechMeme
8:35 – Mike says blogs shouldn’t raise funding
BEST TIME WASTE SITE
Winner – Kongregate
8:29 – another video of bootstrapping
BEST USER GENERATED CONTENT
Winner – video died - Digg won
8:25 – Happy Birthday to scoble says Mike
BEST USE OF VIRAL MARKETING
Winner – StumbleUpon
BEST CONSUMER INTERNET STARTUP
Winner – Meebo
8:18 – another video this time about users and community – looks like most of the companies are from SF
8:15 – all winners get 30 seconds but fake steve jobs gets multiple minutes! funny for 30 seconds – the man curses 40x for cheap pops – lame
Winner – iphone
BEST ENTERPRISE STARTUP
Winner – Zoho
8:05 – so far i’ve picked every winner – that’s not good
BEST CLEAN TECH STARTUP
Winner – TESLA
8:05 – Richter Scales is done – camera person zooms like there is no tomorrow
7:58 – Mike talks about the Richter Scales video – they are playing live
BEST VIDEO SITE AWARD
Winner – Hulu
7:54 – sponsor commercial for adobe
7:54 – is it best or most popular who wins?
Winner – SmugMug
BEST MOBILE STARTUP AWARD
Winner - Twitter
7:46 – first video – trends and innovation – some guy who we don’t know who says it’s the computer is the distruptive thing? some guy says how great cool whip is… i sure hope the other videos are better – this one is about as boring as watching hot air popcorn pop
7:44 - Mike explains that you have 30 seconds to get your thank yous in then we must move on
7:42 – shows a video about how they made the award – 14″ tall, 2.5 lbs
7:40 – Show is starting – Arrington is doing the welcome - Om says hi, Richard says hi, RWW rocks, Matt Marshall from VentureBeat says hi as well, VC covers the intersection of money and tech
7:38 – Sarah Lacy interviewed – she shills everything she is working on – she said she is there cuz Arrington asked her to come – also is interested in the entrep of the year. Sarah says that her book will focus on people who don’t care about money when they do their startups
7:34 – Geni is interviewed – founder says he has 30,000 people on his tree – am I up on there?
7:32 – Ingrid from Mogulus lets us know that many of the people are in the audience are the founders of innovation – like Kevin Rose – power to the people she says – very exciting to hear what they have to say
7:30 – the hosts have shilled for Herbst theater so many times already - must be in the contract :)
7:29 - people in the chat room are now picking words for drinking game – i’ll take web 2.0
7:25 – they interview Marissa from Google – she talks about how interesting it will be to watch how social affects search - Alex asks about maps companies and are they looking to acquire – but wait – isn’t UpNext the only map company? Marissa says people are looking for the tiger who attacked the woman – and Marissa won’t share any product announcements for 2008 tonight
7:20 – Chris interviews Zoho – a CN sponsor – Raju explains what Zoho does – but you already know cuz we done covered them before and I knows you all have clicked on their ad! Interesting fact – zoho the name is a play off soho – they have 17 apps right now
7:16 – Rafe from Webware is there – shoutout to Rafe from NYC! If you aren’t reading Webware, shame on you! Rafe believes liveblogging is where it’s at – the tragedy he says is that there is no time to reflect
7:15 – clearly the camera person with Rachel is drunk – I feel like I am on a boat in the water – she’s interviewing the guy from Facebook Causes app – says nothing except he wants to win
7:14 – they sure do jump from camera to camera and cut everyone off lolcat
7:11 – Kevin Rose hops onto the camera and discusses the editors – he doesn’t actually discuss the editors – deflects to buries and diggs – he says its ALL BASED ON MATH and what the users are doing – so he said that there are NO editors
7:10 – Rachel is a real talent – she should have a daily show I think. Too bad they gave her the wobbly camera and the mic with no wrapper
7:06 – Chris Albrecht says he is glad that it’s being held in SF because that’s where everything is happening
7:03 – Chris Albrecht is talking about how excited he is about the video category – apparently people are going inside – so far this seems like a real class act
7:01 – they show the tesla roadster – well not really as it’s pitch black outside and you can’t see anything – can we get a light please?
6:55 – interview with Ribbit – they put some VOIP over SalesForce apparently – but they have no frogs on their web site
6:50PM – they interview Sarah Meyers – she apparently has an unlimited travel budget
6:47PM – Some of the GigaOm and Mogulus people are chit-chatting – pretty boring if you ask me. Mogulus is always so “sticky” which makes it hard to watch.
Just as I did with the Open Web Awards, here are my thoughts on the Crunchies awards. Here’s the info on voting. I found voting on the Crunchies more difficult than the Open Web Awards. Not sure exactly but it’s not easy to compare a company who has been alive for years versus a brand new company. It’d be great to get some clarification on the term "start-up" — does this mean this year or a startup from anytime? Check out Robert Scoble’s picks as well.
Just a note on voting for this contest and any other awards – consider a one vote per IP address limit. I understand all of the reasons why an awards show wants maximum votes but it reduces the chances that that smaller players will be able to be competitive.
As for the actual selected companies, there are a few that I could have guessed would be listed. On the flip side, for example, how’d Ribbit make it in considering they only launched on December 17?
Another brief note, I noticed on Twitter that Loic is disappointed that Seesmic wasn’t one of the finalists. Mike Arrington noted in a Seesmic video (about 1:20 in) that he removed any of his investments from grabbing a finalist slot. This is a good idea — perhaps he should list which of his investments made it but were removed – that might clear up some of the confusion.
Here are my selections and comments and CONGRATS! to all the finalists.
Best Technology Innovation
- Nominees: Earthmine, Like, Move Networks, Twine, Viewdle
- My Selection: None – don’t know enough about these companies
Best Bootstrapped Startup
- Nominees: FriendFeed, PoliticalBase, ProductWiki, Techmeme, UpNext
- My Selection: UpNext
- Comments: I only know FriendFeed, PoliticalBase from my research today. I did a tiny bit of consulting for ProductWiki and really like where they are headed but can’t vote for them based on the work. Techmeme and UpNext could both have received my vote, I went with UpNext because it’s NYC based. Like what both companies are doing though.
Best new gadget/device
- Nominees: iPhone, Kindle, Ooma, Pleo, Wii
- My Selection: iPhone
- Comments: I didn’t vote Wii as this category says 2007, wasn’t Wii 2006? Kindle been bashed 20 ways to Sunday, Ooma I’ve heard nothing about except on Techcrunch and Pleo I don’t know anything about. While it seems like the iPhone was left, it still was the strongest of the bunch. Did people actually vote for Ooma when they just shipped about 1 month ago?
Best business model
- Nominees: Glam Media, Imeem, Prosper, Weatherbill, Zazzle
- My Selection: None
- Comments: Glam Media = blog network, Imeem = no idea, Prosper = love social lending but the others in the category are just as strong, Weatherbill = innovative but not enough to get a vote, Zazzle = print stuff with your picture on it?
- Nominees: Etsy, Jackson Fish Market, Netvibes, SmugMug, Songza
- My Selection: SmugMug
- Comments: Not really sure what I am voting for here. The category says "best user-interface design" so I went with that. Jackson Fish Market is a web shop – should one of their products have been the entry?
Best enterprise start-up
- Nominees: 37Signals, Attributor, EditGrid, Ribbit, Zoho
- My Selection: None
- Comments: Would have voted for Zoho but can’t vote for a CN advertiser. Ribbit – how’d they get in, they launched on December 17? 37Signals isn’t really a start-up anymore. The others I don’t know enough to comment on.
Best consumer start-up
- Nominees: 1800-FREE-411, 23andMe, LinkedIn, Meebo, Zillow
- My Selection: Meebo
- Comments: Meebo has been going from strength to strength and deserves the vote. Zillow came in a very close second. LinkedIn isn’t a startup, 23andMe is pretty revolutionary, 1800-FREE-411 was big at year’s begin but not as much now.
Best mobile start-up
- Nominees: AdMob, Fring, Loopt, Shozu, Twitter
- My Selection: None
- Comments: I don’t know enough about these companies outside of Twitter (which I don’t use on the Mobile) to vote.
Best international start-up
- Nominees: Atlassian, Gizmoz, MusicShake, Netvibes, Openads
- My Selection: MusicShake
- Comments: MusicShake kicked ass at the TC40 and should have won and they get my vote. Netvibes is a great service but isn’t a startup, Openads I’ve heard is buggy, Gizmoz is fun but not as fun as MusicShake.
Best user-generated content site
- Nominees: Digg, Facebook, Geni, Instructables, Yelp
- My Selection: Yelp
- Comments: Digg and Geni aren’t UGC, not voting for Facebook, and Instructables is great but I use Yelp it seems daily.
Best video site
- Nominees: Aniboom, Hulu, Joost, Justin.tv, Tokbox
- My Selection: Hulu
- Comments: Hulu is a game changer, Aniboom would have been my next choice. Justin.tv LOLZ, Tokbox is ok, in my early trials I found it buggy.
Best clean start-up
- Nominees: A123Systems, Ausra, Gridpoint, NanoSolar, Tesla Motors
- My Selection: None
- Comments: I don’t know enough about these companies to vote.
Best use of viral marketing
- Nominees: Flixster, iLike, iminlikewithyou, RockYou, StumbleUpon
- My Selection: StumbleUpon
- Comments: StumbleUpon is awesome. The others are good as well but StumbleUpon sits above them.
Best time sink site
- Nominees: College Humor, Duels, Kdice, Kongregate, Pandora
- My Selection: Kongregate
- Comments: All good time wasters – interesting that iminlikewithyou didn’t make the cut here
Most likely to make the world a better place
- Nominees: Causes, DonorsChoose, ZeroFootprint, Kiva, One Laptop Per Child
- My Selection: Kiva
- Comments: I am going with the online vote here. Met ZeroFootprint when they sponsored TC40 and it seemed interesting, but not as strong online as Kiva. One Laptop Per Child will probably win in 2008.
Most likely to succeed
- Nominees: Kayak, Mint, Slide, WordPress, Zivity
- My Selection: Kayak
- Comments: Kayak is a strong player here and out of this group has the most chance to succeed. WordPress is too old to consider in this category, Zivity is a closed beta, you already know my thoughts on Mint.
Best start-up founder
- Nominees: Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn), Max Levchin (Slide), Kevin Rose (Digg), Evan Williams (Twitter), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook)
- My Selection: none
- Comments: None of these are startups in 2007. If it’s of all time, then Mark or Reid would be my vote.
Best start-up CEO
- Nominees: Gina Bianchini (Ning), Dick Costolo (Feedburner), Toni Schneider (WordPress), Rob Solomon (Sidestep), Lance Takoda (RockYou)
- My Selection: Ning/Gina Bianchini
- Comments: Gina has built a strong company – one could argue that Mark is the marketer behind the growth but nevertheless it’s a company that comes up in conversation weekly. The others are not from 2007.
Best new start-up of 2007
- Nominees: Hulu, iMedix, Joost, Ribbit, Tumblr
- My Selection: Hulu
- Comments: Each of them are strong and my vote could have went to any of them. I like Tumblr a lot along with iMedix but my guess is, unfortunately, neither will win without the massive budgets of Joost and Hulu.
- Nominees: Digg, Facebook, GrandCentral, Twitter, Zillow
- My Selection: GrandCentral
- Comments: GrandCentral is a huge game changer. Twiiter I could take or leave, Digg and Facebook are both massive and offer huge benefits but GrandCentral hits the pocketbook for most people so that’s why they get the nod. Zillow will get the win in 2008.
There’s my selections, who are your picks for the Crunchies Award Winners?