The 9th Annual Crunchies are almost upon us. On February 8, luminaries from some of the best and brightest startups around will descend upon San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House to take part in an event that’s best described as the Oscars of startups and technology.
Up for grabs are highly coveted Crunchies in 12 categories, and today we’ll be taking a look at the finalists for the Founder of the Year for 2015. This award goes to the individual who has elevated their company to new heights in a competitive market.
There are several great individuals up for the award this year, so let’s take a look at them, as well as the ones who have won this award in the past.
The 2015 Nominees
Stewart Butterfield set out to change the way colleagues communicate when he co-founded Slack in 2013. The popular team communication tool has drawn the attention of a number of investors, including Accel, Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures and Social Capital, and raised $340 million. The Slack boss, who recently discussed his company’s plans for an IPO, is also popular among his staff. He penned an internal note explaining why he closed the office on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
Natalie Massenet founded the online fashion store Net-a-Porter in 2000. She grew the site into a profitable business by 2004, the same year it won the “Best Fashion Shop” award at the British Fashion Awards. In 2010, Massenet sold the company to the Swiss luxury firm Richemont for a reported $343 million. She left Net-a-Porter last year.
Jessica Livingston, a founding partner of Y Combinator, has played a big role in helping launch the careers of many a founder. The accelerator has funded more than 1,000 startups since it launched in 2005, and their companies have a combined valuation of $65 billion.
Tristan Walker is the founder and CEO of Walker & Company Brands, which designs health and beauty products for people of color. The company’s most well-known brand is Bevel, a line of products that have (thankfully) revolutionized the way men and women shave. Under his watch, Walker & Company has raised $33 million from Andreessen Horowitz, Felicis Partners, Collaborative Partners and rapper Nas among others. Walker is also a strong voice in the push for a more diverse tech industry.
Anne Wojcicki is a founder of 23andMe, an FDA-approved human genome research outfit founded in 2006 that wants you to know a bit more about your genetic and ancestral makeup. And who wouldn’t want to know that? Despite a regulatory run-in with the FDA that saw it temporarily cease health-related testing in 2013 only to be cleared last year, the company has raised $227 million from the likes of Genentech, Google Ventures and Wojcicki herself. And thanks to Wojcicki and Co., when people approach me and ask “What are you?” (PSA: please don’t do that), I can say with confidence that I am 60.1 percent European, 39.5 percent Sub-Sarahan African, 0.3 percent East Asian and Native American and 0.2 percent unassigned.
The Founder of the Year award has been a part of the Crunchies since day one, and we’ve had quite a few big names take home the trophy. Below is just a sample.
Mark Zuckerberg – 1st Annual Crunchies Winner
Big surprise. Mark Zuckerberg founded Facebook in his Harvard dorm room forever changing the way we think of “friends”. The two-time Crunchie winner has seen his social enterprise reach more than a billion users, watched the growth of Facebook Video, Instagram and Messenger, as well as newer initiatives surrounding Facebook’s virtual reality company Oculus.
Jack Dorsey – 5th Annual Crunchies Winner
Jack Dorsey is a busy man these days now that he helms Twitter and Square, the two companies he helped launch. Last year, the two-time Crunchie winner was named permanent CEO of Twitter again, and a month later, took Square public. With the pressure to boost Twitter’s active user count and the departure of top execs at the company, not to mention his Square time, he’s got a lot of work to do.
Kevin Systrom – 6th Annual Crunchies Winner
Kevin Systrom, the Instagram founder who taught us all to put a filter on it, watched his mobile photo-sharing app raise $57 million in funding before being acquired by Facebook in 2006 for a measly $1 billion. Not bad.
Which of our Founder of the Year nominees will take home the prize? Find out for yourself on February 8 at the 9th Annual Crunchies.
And we have some good news: we’ve delayed the price increase to give you more time to see the Crunchies in person. Get your tickets starting at $115 by Wednesday to be a part of the action before the price actually jumps.
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