TechCrunch Crunchies: Who Deserved to Win, Who Should Have Won, and WTF

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Friday night marked the first time I’ve attended the TechCrunch Crunchies. I’ve attended two of TechCrunch’s Real-Time CrunchUps, but as an award ceremony, this event was somewhat different.

Oh. Don’t worry. There was plenty of schmoozing and boozing. But instead of discussing the future of what’s to come, it was about honoring what’s been done.

The tight seating of San Francisco’s Herbst Theater and the low-key and irony-laden nature of the event inspired Linkin Park’s lead singer, Mike Shinoda, to razz TechCrunch for its production values by saying ‘any one of the nominees here tonight could probably buy the VMAs 1ox over, so it’s nice to see you guys are keeping it modest.’ It was a good line and funny moment. But the laid-back nature of the TechCrunch events are what make them fun and congenial, despite what can be an insider-heavy, tech-clique group.

All in all, it was another good TechCrunch event and I hope the somewhat glitzy after-party across the street at SF City Hall was enough to garner Shinoda’s rock star stamp of approval.

Who Deserved to Win and Who Should Have Won

If you don’t know about the Crunchies, well then here you go:

The 2009 Crunchies is our third annual competition and award ceremony to recognize and celebrate the most compelling startups, internet and technology innovations of the year.

But lets get down to it. Here’s my thoughts on the awards.

Best Technology Achievement:

Winner: Chrome OS
Runner Up: Google Wave

I can’t really find fault with these winners. Chrome is slick and I use it very frequently. Actually, for working in Gmail, Google Docs, and Wave, it’s become my go to browser.

Wave? Well, I’ve knocked Wave for the way it was released. But, as a piece of technology, it truly is groundbreaking and I will surely use it more than I already am for project collaboration. I just wish it’s full impact had been better realized this year. Perhaps winning this Crunchie will assist in that going forward, so I’m glad it won Runner Up.

Best Internet Application:

Winner: Dropbox
Runner Up: Yelp

I use Dropbox all the time. I think it’s fantastic. No argument here on that one. Yelp? Is it really an Internet Application? Eh … perhaps Animoto is more deserving, yet the masses have spoken.

Best Social App:

Winner: Farmville
Runner Up: DailyBooth

This is pure garbage. I have no beef with DailyBooth. It’s a cool concept and a great design, even if I have little personal interest in it. Farmville as winner? This is about BEST social app. Not most popular. Aardvark is one of the most innovative and useful social approaches we’ve seen for accessing and filtering the knowledge trapped in the minds of your friends’ friends. In my humble opinion, they deserved not only this award but also Best New Startup Or Product of 2009. But I’ll get to that later.

Best Bootstrapped StartUp:

Winner: Tinychat
Runner Up: Wildfire Interactive

Worthy winners, yet I’m a rather amazed that Tweetie didn’t place in the top two.

Best Mobile Application:

Winner: Foursquare
Runner Up: Gowalla

Ok, these are both cool apps and all, but really, aren’t they kinda the same deal? Seems that with the gazillions of apps out there there should be more diversity in the nominees and winner of this category.

Best International:

Winner: Playfish
Runner Up: Spotify

Really? I mean, really? I must be living in an alternate reality. How could Tweetdeck not possibly win this — let alone more? (Best Mobile, anyone?) I demand a recount.

Best Time Sink Application:

Winner: DailyBooth
Runner Up: Pandora

Okay. I’m fine with this. Even if I’m partial to Civilization Revolution.

Best Design:

Winner: Animoto
Runner Up: Facebook Mobile

Deserving winners. Though Brizzly certainly deserves a mention here.

Best Enterprise:

Winner: Google Docs/Office
Runner Up: Atlassian

I’ll be looking for Salesforce’s Chatter to be a winner here next year.

Best CleanTech:

Winner: Sun Run
Runner Up: Sapphire Energy

Just the fact that this category exists here gives me a peaceful, easy feeling and a delusional feeling all is right with the world. I think Sun Run deserves to win. 

Best New Gadget:

Winner: Barnes & Noble nook
Runner Up: Apple Magic Mouse

Makes sense.

Best Tech PR:

Winner: Spark
Runner Up: Outcast Communications

This whole category struck me as being a bunch of hype. (See what I did there? Boy, I crack myself up sometimes.)

Best Angel:

Winner: Ron Conway (SV Angel)
Runner Up: Y-Combinator

How could Ron Conway not win? The earth would seize to rotate.

Best VC Firm:

Winner: Accel
Runner Up: Greylock Partners

Until someone invests in one of the web or film projects I’m involved with, I have no comment on this. (However, I invite the entire field to contact me if interested in earning my vote.)

Founder of the Year:

Winner: Arron Patzer (Mint)
Runner Up: Jeremy Stoppelman & Russ Simmons (Yelp)

I’m pretty sure John Borthwick got shortsheeted on this one. And no one from Twitter was nominated? I guess it would be hard to nominate three and unfair to nominate one? But, still.

CEO of the Year:

Winner: Mark Pincus (Zynga)
Runner Up: Josh Silverman (Skype)

Something is fishy. No one from Twitter has this exact title, so maybe we’ll let that slide. But Mark Pincus? Over Marc Benioff? Over Tony Hsieh? Hrmmm. There is a disturbance in the force.

Best New Startup Or Product of 2009:

Winner: Bing
Runner Up: Aardvark

Excuse me, but this, as well as the entire structure of the category, is total bullshit. Sorry guys, but this is really a failure by TechCrunch.

Obviously I’m an Aardvark fan. But this should be 2 categories: Best New Startup and Best New Product. How do you combine these? It’s not logical. No MS backed product should be competing against bootstrapped startups. One award for the startups, one for products. If Bing wins over Aardvark as the better product, great. All’s fair in love and war and in the intertubes. But come on. It’s too easy for MS to recruit votes on this.

Further, Dr. Harry Shum’s arrogant acceptance speech was clearly conceived ahead of time and spent a pathetic amount of time taking swipes at Google, which was not a direct competitor in this category. Dr. Harry, just say thanks and get off the stage. Otherwise, it just looks like desperation wrapped in a cloak of conceit. (And no, I don’t think your votes came from Mountain View.)

Best Overall Startup Or Product of 2009:

Winner: Facebook
Runner Up: Twitter

I’m not sure where to start here.

With the impact Twitter had on web culture, platforms, media, and advertising in 2009, I’m not entirely sure that it deserves to lose as either Best Overall Startup or Best Overall Product of 2009.

I am sure that this should be two distinct categories. Best Overall Startup and Best Overall Product. This strikes me as a another serious design flaw in the structure of these awards, and I hope TechCrunch makes changes in this regard for next year.

And the Award Goes to …

TechCrunch, who really did put on a great event and clearly was both the biggest benefactor and winner of the evening, despite what I consider to be an insane competition structure for what are arguably the two most important awards.

PS: I’ll have more to say on the blowback to the Mark Zuckerberg comments on privacy tomorrow.

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