Why We Put On The Crunchies

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Last night at the Crunchies, the Herbst theater in San Francisco was packed to capacity (see photos below). In attendance to collect awards were Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft chief software architect Ray Ozzie, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels, Google product chief Marissa Mayer, Twitter founders Evan Williams, Biz Stone, and Jack Dorsey, imeem founder Dalton Caldwell, and many more. (Read who won here). FriendFeed founder Paul Buchheit was so excited about winning Best Startup of 2008 that he videotaped the award from his seat (embedded below, go to the 2:20 mark to see what it was like to win from his vantage point).

In adition to the winners, Y Combinator’s Paul Graham, Seesmic CEO Loic Le Meur, and Mahalo CEO Jason Calacanis also made appearances on stage. The slideshow above gives a feel for the event and the party afterward, which was in the stunning Rotunda of City Hall (thank you, MySpace). Or you can check out people’s reactions on Twitter.

Facebook once again won the overall prize for the second year in a row, and Mark Zuckerberg also picked up the best CEO prize. During his acceptance speech, Zuckerberg’s message to all the other entrepreneurs in the audience was that even during an economic downturn they can build something great and become a beacon of light for the rest of the industry. Microsoft’s Ray Ozzie, who was on hand to accept the prize for Best Technology Achievement, struck a similar chord:

When we are in an environment with technological and environmental change, you have to focus on these new huge constraints, but also new opportunities for destruction or rebirth.

The easy VC money might have stopped flowing to startups, but that doesn’t mean the world has stopped. I was acutely reminded of that fact simply by watching the hardened optimism of everyone in the theater. Some people compare the Crunchies to the Oscars of Tech, but we like to think of it more as a large family gathering. For all the blogs involved—Gigaom, VentureBeat, Silicon Alley Insider, TechCrunch—it’s our way of saying, “Thank You” to all the startups and tech companies out there. If they didn’t keep striving to become that beacon of light, we’d have nothing to write about.

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