Announcing The TechFellow Awards With Founders Fund

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I’m very pleased to announce a new startup investment program today called The TechFellow Awards in partnership with Founders Fund. The goal is to honor technology innovators and stoke new investment in great early stage ideas.

The TechFellow Awards program will grant at least twelve fellows $25,000 each to invest in an early stage startup of their choice. Founders Fund will invest an additional $25,000 alongside those investments and request an additional right to invest another $250,000 when the company raises its next round of financing. In all, Founders Fund expects to devote around $3.6 million to the program.

The fellows will have few restrictions on the companies they invest in. The fellows will be selected from four categories of experts: engineering leadership, product design and marketing, general management and disruptive innovation.

Nominations for TechFellow Awards are open to everyone; information on submitting people you think would be excellent award candidates is available here and on TechFellow.com (self nominations are welcome). Nominations will be open until Friday, May 8, 2009.

We’ve also gathered an amazing group of people to help select winners of the TechFellow Awards, which will be formally granted at an awards dinner in June:

The full press release is below:

TECHCRUNCH, FOUNDERS FUND LAUNCH FIRST ANNUAL ‘TECHFELLOW AWARDS’

$50,000 “Genius Grants for Geeks” to Invest in Emerging Companies

SAN FRANCISCO—April 16, 2009—TechCrunch, a leading technology blog, and Founders Fund, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm, today announced the TechFellow Awards, a new annual program honoring technology innovators for achievement and excellence in high-tech entrepreneurship.

The twelve initial TechFellow recipients will be chosen from a pool of candidates contributed by the nominating committee with the help of the readers of TechCrunch. This open nomination process starts today on the TechCrunch website. Final fellowship selections will be made in June 2009 and announced at an awards dinner for the honorees.

The awards will recognize individuals for their critical role in developing breakthrough products and services in four categories: 1) Engineering Leadership, 2) Product Design and Marketing, 3) General Management, and 4) Disruptive Innovation.

Each TechFellow will be awarded $25,000 to invest in a new startup of their choice. Founders Fund will match each investment, for a total of $50,000. Founders Fund may also provide additional future investments in these companies.

“Even in a down market, the innovation and entrepreneurship of Silicon Valley continues unabated,” said Michael Arrington, Founder of TechCrunch. “The TechFellow Awards recognize and reward current role models of our industry.”

“In challenging times, focusing on innovation remains a good bet,” said Sean Parker, Managing Partner at Founders Fund. “It’s time to double-down on the future of technology by encouraging the next generation of innovators.”

Public TechFellow nominations launch today on TechCrunch via a Webform available at http://www.techcrunch.com/techfellow and will be open until Friday, May 8, 2009.

The 2009 TechFellow Awards Nominating Committee members are:
• Marc Andreessen, Co-Founder and Chairman, Ning
• John McKinley, CEO and Founder, OurParents
• Michael Arrington, Founder/Editor, TechCrunch
• Jonathan Miller, Chief Digital Officer, News Corp
• John Battelle, Chairman, CEO, Federated Media
• Tim O’Reilly, Founder, O’Reilly Media
• Ron Conway, Special Partner, Baseline
• Sean Parker, Co-Founder, Napster, Plaxo, Facebook; Managing Partner, Founders Fund
• Chris DeWolfe, Co-Founder and CEO, MySpace
• Geoff Ralston, CEO, LaLa and former Chief Product Officer, Yahoo!
• Esther Dyson, Chairman, EDventure
• Terry Semel, Chairman and CEO, Windsor Media and former Chairman and CEO, Yahoo!
• Caterina Fake, Co-Founder, Flickr
• Danny Sullivan, Editor-in-Chief, SearchEngineLand.com
• Shawn Fanning, Co-Founder, Napster, Co-Founder SNOCAP, Co-Founder Rupture • Peter Thiel, Managing Partner, Founders Fund, Former CEO, PayPal
• Reid Hoffman, CEO and Co-Founder, LinkedIn
• Jeff Weiner, Executive-in-Residence, Accel Partners and Greylock Partners
• Joi Ito, CEO, Creative Commons
• Michael Yanover, Head of Business Development, Creative Artists Agency
• Max Levchin, Founder and CEO, Slide, Co-Founder, PayPal
• Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO, Facebook

For additional information about the TechFellow awards please visit http://TechFellow.com.

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About TechCrunch
TechCrunch is a leading technology media empire dedicated to obsessively profiling and reviewing new Internet products and companies. Founded in 2005, TechCrunch and its network of websites reach 5.5 million unique visitors and have more than 15 million page views per month. TechCrunch operates a global network of websites including TechCrunch Europe, TechCrunch France, and TechCrunch Japan as well as specialized industry websites including MobileCrunch, CrunchGear, and TechCrunchIT. TechCrunch is also home to CrunchBase, a leading data resource about start-up companies, people and investors, as well as industry events including TechCrunch 50 and The Crunchies, and various meet-ups worldwide serving as community platforms for industry conversation and collaboration. TechCrunch is a privately held company located in Palo Alto, CA. For more information, please visit http://www.techcrunch.com.

About Founders Fund
Based in San Francisco, Founders Fund is an early-stage venture capital firm created in 2005. Founders Fund is run by entrepreneurs who have started and managed their own companies, and is committed to innovation in venture capital using a non-traditional, founder-focused approach to investing. The FF team is comprised of people with engineering, product, design, and online marketing experience from companies like PayPal, Facebook, and Google. If you’re solving a big and interesting problem, we’d like to hear what you’re doing. For more information visit http://www.foundersfund.com.

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