The Crunchies

I went to the Crunchies last night for the first time. The Gotham Gal was nominated for “Angel Investor Of The Year” and she said, “If by some chance I win and I’m not there to accept, then I would be a jerk.” I agreed with that logic and so we went.

Chelsea Peretti, who hosted, is great. She is very funny. She made fun of tech, SF, and a bunch of other things, but in a good way. I think she is a great choice for host.

Diversity was the theme of the night. The best move was when Slack sent out a number of their female (and african american) engineers to accept one of several awards they won last night. That sent a message to everyone else. If they can do it, so can you. Well played Slack.

But the honest to god truth is most of the winners don’t care about the Crunchies. Not one winner of the big categories showed up to accept their award. So the Gotham Gal would have been in very good company had she not showed up.

And the other honest to god truth is award shows suck. Because there is no single best of anything. No best movie. No best TV show. No best musician. No best comedian. No best VC. No best startup. No best CEO.

And the idea that there is an anathema to me. Which is why I’ve never been to a Crunchies even when I was nominated.

I know I sound like a grump. Award shows are entertainment. People like them. And last night was entertaining thanks to Chelsea and Jordan Crook, who is also quite funny and talented.

But the final thing I will say on this is the reason why award shows exist is because all of the work that everyone does who aren’t nominated and don’t win. So entrepreneurs all over the world are the reason Techcrunch even gets to put on this show. Bill Gurley said as much last night in his gracious and wonderful acceptance speech. And he is right.

#mobile#VC & Technology#Web/Tech

Comments (Archived):

  1. kirklove


  2. andyswan

    One of my biggest professional regrets is agreeing to be a judge at a Startup Weekend.Award shows are like pickup basketball— they can be a lot of fun, but only if no one is taking themselves too seriously.

    1. pointsnfigures

      Startup weekend isn’t awards though-it’s a competition. Judging at something like that can also be construed as helping the local community.

      1. andyswan

        Awards shows are subjective competitions just the same. They just don’t broadcast the judging part.

  3. Richard

    I’d be ok with the awards if they were based on hard ROI data. It’s the only metric of importance in VC.

    1. JimHirshfield

      Popularity has an ROI, no?

      1. Richard

        Not if you are Bernie Madoff

  4. Varun

    What struck me when I heard the news reporting of the crunchies is how Hollywood Tech is starting to feel.

  5. Matt Zagaja

    Lots of people in tech work really hard on their projects. While I agree there is not necessarily a best of anything and that award shows are entertainment, it’s important to once in a while stop and smell the flowers.

  6. jason wright

    i’m very disappointed i didn’t win. what more do i have to do?

    1. JimHirshfield

      Participate. There’s an award for that.

      1. jason wright

        i’m in an image rights dispute with my employer. code monkeys deserve better.

  7. awaldstein

    Agree and sign of the times.I get asked every month to judge and host wine tastings. I always say no.Love the community but both the scale of excellence and the lack of response from a community driven marketplace makes the marketing ring hollow.

    1. pointsnfigures

      Wine is so different. It’s such a personal metric.

      1. awaldstein

        Huge insider controversial topic.You might like this as as it digs into the changing of the guard in the tasting and awards piece of the wine biz.The times are a changing in the wine world

  8. LE

    Normals don’t care or even know about the crunchies nor do I care about the crunchies. [1] It’s a publicity vehicle for Tech Crunch and it’s a stupid and childish name to boot.All you need to know about how unimportant those awards are is on the home page, which contains picture of Marissa Meyer probably one of the few people that non techies even recognize. I guess she is like the washed up Jack Nicholson of the industry.Also noting there isn’t even a page that says exactly what the crunchies are this is essentially a one page website even ‘Best of Philly’ is a better publicity vehicle for that publisher.[1] And the truth is you probably wouldn’t care if one of your peers won an award it’s nowhere near like the accolades you get when you win a real award in another mature industry….

  9. LE

    I know I sound like a grump.Well the good news is by going and not winning you have now established a precedent to avoiding future events soley based on guilt (as opposed to value). Had Joanne won the award who knows how many other events you’d have to suffer through because of that reinforcement.“If by some chance I win and I’m not there to accept, then I would be a jerk.” I agreed with that logic and so we went.What I use to overcome and avoid emotions like that is simply to project forward a bit. The truth is you might feel bad the next day (if a winner) but several days later and definitely a week later it would mean nothing at all to you. This, I have found, is a very effective way to avoid guilt. Project forward.

  10. sigmaalgebra

    Best? Sure, usually not.Multi-objective best? Well, Jared Cohon, a researcher in that field and long President at CMU, might say that there is a non-inferior and/or a Pareto best.E.g., once I was working with airplane flight planning, and from A to B had a lot of candidates that differed on flight time and fuel burned. Well, just throw out the inferior ones and keep the non-inferior ones, and the rest of the calculations went much faster!

  11. William Mougayar

    It sounds like you’re for the celebrating & recognition part, but without the awards that single out certain players over others.Agreed that this kind of Hollywood practice doesn’t translate well into the startup world.

    1. LE

      They can actually fix this by having more granularity with the awards so more people go away feeling as if they’ve been “honored”. Easy to make up new categories. Fail on their part. Execution is poor.That is the way ‘Best of Philly’ [1] as only one example works (they were one of the first to do this in the 70′). Ditto for Academy Awards you need granularity to get everyone to care about the process and support it and publicize and brag about it.[1]… (This is also the same as US News does now with college rankings, Philly Mag did it first I believe…) [2] A huge cash machine for them in their print edition. Helps them sell a ton of advertising year round. Those honored put window stickers in their places of business as well.[2]… Look at just this one category how many winners there are.Add: And the more awards you give out the more money you can make from ‘hanging” fees. They could probably easily soak charge winners $200 to $500 depending on the quality of the statue.

      1. Donna Brewington White

        That’s what I was going for in my comment — the idea of “honoring.”

    2. Donna Brewington White

      Hollywood does a better job of celebrating their industry and crafts in the midst of meting out awards. But then they’ve been at it a lot longer.

      1. William Mougayar

        But even the Academy & Globe Awards are nauseating at times. But they do a great job padding themselves on the back.

        1. awaldstein

          The difference is–pandoring aside-that Academy awards drive ticket and download numbers in a huge huge way.On a market economic side they have meaning.Most all others including the bullshit of the crunchies mean less than nothing really except people like a party and a reason to get together.When I played in the movie biz the awards I always liked were the technical ones. True scientists and geeks. People who invented stuff that make the visualizing of the imagination possible.

  12. creative group

    FRED:elated you accurately described the award’s ceromonies before we had too.

  13. Twain Twain

    We might have bumped into each other — if I’d gone.Instead, I was watching a woman walking her pot-bellied Vietnamese pig on the street. I said yesterday Chinese New Year was full of ‘Twilight Zone’ moments! LOL. I was at Crunchies last year, mostly because I wanted to see the interior of Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall.

  14. Daniel Clough

    young companies / startups drumming up a lot of publicity for awards they have been nominated or won, just throws up a red flag to me. Makes me feel there is something very wrong with the business they want to be distracted from.

  15. Brandon Burns

    Award shows exist because they’re extremely profitable events / businesses that have a great, easy, tried-and-true model to follow — get a C- or B-list celeb to host, the most popular thought leaders in your industry to judge / present, use their names to fuel your PR, collect ticket fees in the thousands of dollars that companies will pay without blinking because it’s already accounted for in their conference / networking budget for the year, and then take a 6 month break to enjoy the easy money before you start prepping for next year’s show.That’s why award shows exist.

    1. fredwilson

      You are so right. And as a friend explained to me via email after reading this post, they happen in Q1 because it is a seasonally low point in the ad market

  16. pointsnfigures

    I agree on awards. Never attend them. Brad Feld wrote a post about this a while ago and he echoes your sentiments. Gotham Gal deserves an award. She put up with you all these years : ) (that is supposed to be funny)

    1. fredwilson

      You are so right

  17. Stuart Kime

    While I agree with you’re entire post, like all startups, everything is terrible at first. I’m betting the industry only half-ass attended the 9th annual Oscar Awards and now it’s an absolute circus.One of my startups was invited last year as a Startup Alley finalist (which felt even more pointless). And as my cofounder and I left early to go drink at the bar across the street because TJ Miller (the host) was too coke’d out to shut up, it dawned on me that I shouldn’t feel disappointed. When my kids are watching the 50th Annual Crunchies it will be the biggest thing on TV because the winners will all be richer than actors, richer than football players, richer than some countries and finally almost everyone living will be digital natives. And I’ll get to tell them how I as invited to the 8th Annual Crunchies and too bad back then all people cared about was The Bachelor and The Voice.

  18. Donna Brewington White

    I was there. Added it to my experience base as someone committed to the startup world.Entertainment seemed to be more the theme than celebration. It was entertaining.There were meaningful moments. The visual of the colorful Slack engineering team members accepting the award will stay with me for a long time.I’m already a fan of Kimberly Bryant (Black Girls Code) who won the Include Diversity Award and her words were heartening.Wasn’t surprised that Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg didn’t show up. But there were several recognizable people who did, even those not receiving awards — probably to support their colleagues who were nominated. Kudos to you and Joanne for being there. I was excited that she was nominated. Not for the nomination itself but because the important work that she does has reached such a recognizable level. She is making a difference.Bill Gurley’s speech was meaningful. These words sum it up “We [VCs] are not the actors, we are the stage hands.” Which ties into your comment– that entrepreneurs all over the world are the reason that Techcrunch even gets to put on this show.It was fun but the whole thing was a bit superficial. What was missing for me was the sense of celebration of those entrepreneurs and the heart and grit that go into what they do every single day. Even the ones who are now a huge success got there because at one point they laid it all on the line. I’m not saying that the Crunchies has to be sappy but it could have more heart.

  19. JLM

    .I will take the “under” on this subject without disagreeing. Much of ritual is the celebration of the fight, the counting of coups around the campfires of life.Recently, I have been studying Napoleon’s Russian campaign and in the course of it have stumbled on some interesting utterances.”The moral is to the physical as three to one.””A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.”“A man does not have himself killed for a half-pence a day or for a petty distinction. You must speak to the soul in order to electrify him.”“There are but two powers in the world, the sword and the mind. In the long run the sword is always beaten by the mind.”“To have good soldiers, a nation must always be at war.””Soldiers usually win the battles and generals get the credit for them.””Give me enough medals and I’ll win you any war.”In many ways, business is like war — the marshaling of armies (companies) and the head on collision in the marketplace to allow one to emerge decisively as the winner.I like awards, of all kinds, when they serve as the proxy for Napoleon’s “colored ribbons” recognizing the leaders and the workers who have advanced things — in this instance technology.We need to celebrate victories and stop complaining about our own self-imposed victimhood.Of course, I could be wrong about this.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

    1. LE

      “Soldiers usually win the battles and generals get the credit for them.”I guess that is the difference between war and business. In business awards are good if they help you make money or further your business purposes in some way. [1]Wharton Alumni (and local Wharton clubs) have all sorts of awards they give out. These are basically given to people who donate money to the school. I don’t know that for a fact but it’s quite obvious what is going on.My parents and I am sure other synagogues hold awards dinners for prominent congregants. They are the members that buy the most Israeli bonds. They get honored in that way. #winnersjewishwithdeeppockets It’s a way to show everyone how rich you are if they can’t see your house.[1] For example back in the 80’s (when it mattered) I got one of those Inc. 500 things (it was a big deal back then). Multiple people came out of the woodwork (mainly salespeople) however it did help with customers and employees. I was surprised how seriously people actually took the award (considering you self enter the process).

    2. Jess Bachman

      Not just soldiers, but users will fight tooth and nail, often to their virtual deaths, of the smallest amount of digital achievement. It’s a tried and true strategy.

    3. Donna Brewington White

      My husband has an interest in the “art and science” of war. Interesting since he is one of the most peaceful men you will ever meet. Would you recommend this book?

    4. PhilipSugar

      Somehow I agree with you and disagree at the same time. I was a member of one of the first scout troops: Paoli 1 (you know where that logo evolved from) In no way this is military, but we have a very big military tradition and many generals. (Look at those uniforms they are WW1 army issued shirts we have one of the largest stashes anywhere of those shirts, and if you make Eagle you get to keep it) I was on the last Swiss Alps Mountain climbing trip. Ribbons were important. I see your point for the army.Somehow, I’ve become jaded because I see the politics and crap of how these work at big companies, and places like TechCrunch because the almost are a substitute to really understand and reward those that are doing the work.You have told many stories and I never served, but I had that drilled into my head. Yes rank has its privileges, but you better never shit on the noncoms. I can remember a rule we had around the campfire. Your little guys ate first.If you have that kind of tradition, then awards are good, but having them without backing them up is hollow. If Tech Crunch honored entrepreneurs that just built business over a long period of time and didn’t sell out for a billion it would be cool, but what the heck that’s not their business.

    5. Chimpwithcans

      I agree, with the caveat that there needs to certainty about what victory is celebrated. For example, the Oscars celebrate celebrity, and all the pretty American people who get onto the movie screen (A worthy cause. Where would we be without pretty American people? Personally I’d still be in Africa). It sounds like the crunchies are a little more substantial, but also a little confused about what they want to celebrate. If Fred is right and there is no single best of anything in tech, then there needs to be a rethink on the awards criteria perhaps. It may also help if a common enemy was identified. Tech for tech’s sake is hard to judge.

    6. Mark Essel

      I like to celebrate over a well deserved long weekend walk with my wonderful wife Michelle, after an over sized cup of iced coffee and some breakfast.This is my weekly pay window.I’ve been fully invested in startup/tech since 2012, and before that it was a obsessive hobby while juggling a day job. I’ve paid attention to the results of one award I can remember, a tiny engraved nameplate Michelle picked up for me while I was struggling to bring to life my first big idea (killing dumb ads).It’s not a community thing. It’s delightfully sefish. The best times are when we lose track of all the weekly worries and live in that moment.

  20. pointsnfigures

    Happy Fat Tuesday to AVC. “Laissez les bon temps roulez!”

    1. ShanaC

      what exactly is fat tuesday

  21. Drew Meyers

    I personally hate award shows. Not sure why so many people watch them to be honest.

    1. Simone

      External validation. most people need it badly.

      1. Drew Meyers

        I know, sad so many people care so deeply what others think of their every move (and that so many care so much about what random celebrities are doing with their lives).

        1. Simone

          being so busy to become what ‘society’ wants, no wonder most people (including or especially materially secure people) are so unhappy. dedicating a life to something that turns out it doesn’t bring happiness is not funny.

  22. PhilipSugar

    I agree the issue I have with awards is that usually the don’t take into account all the work that went into it and are reserved for those that position themselves to look the best.

  23. ShanaC

    I don’t watch award shows anymore as a general rule for basically the reasons you describe. As entertainment, it’s kinda boringThat said, I do think there are reasons to want to tell people they are amazing – what’s the best way of doing that

  24. Mark Essel

    Consistent year over year support, encouragement, and betting on entrepreneurs is a rewarding experience I’m envious of.Winners enable you to double down, reinvest in new opportunities. The best losers don’t go down timidly and leave behind a tougher, smarter, and hungrier entrepreneur.Gotham Gal’s a winner in my book independent of any award show.

  25. FlavioGomes

    Chelsea was hilarious…mostly because almost everything she said was true.I particularly liked the dude that pointed to himself as the highest net worth individual in the crowd in true to form silicon valley fashion

    1. Mikey

      I regret nothing. I did it for the lulz 😉