We’re getting ready for the 9th Annual Crunchies here at TechCrunch, where some of the brightest startups, companies and leaders hope to win the coveted Crunchie award in one of the 12 categories up for grabs.
Among that mix are those who write the checks to get these startups off to a good beginning – venture capitalists. Below are the VCs who have been selected as finalists for the VC of the Year award, as well as a look back at some of the awesome investors who received this award in previous years.
The 2015 Nominees
Marc Andreessen is best known these days as one-half of the founding team at the VC firm with his moniker Andreessen Horowitz. Andreessen helped create the Netscape web browser while he was working in a physics lab in college. AOL (TechCrunch’s parent company) bought Netscape in 1999. Ten years later, the Twitter-prolific VC founded A16z with Ben Horowitz. The two went on to fund some of the most famous tech companies – including Facebook, Oculus, Slack, and Twitter.
Sonali De Rycker
Mumbai-born Sonali De Rycker joined VC firm Accel’s London operation as a general partner in 2008. Since that time she’s led investments in several European-based consumer startups such as Spotify, Lyst and Calastone. She’s also an independent director of Match Group, Inc.
Bill Gurley is a partner at Benchmark and famous for his “doom and gloom” punditry about the impending startup bubble. He regularly rails against startups buying Kind Bars and other such office luxuries with their VC dollars instead of saving up for end times. Gurley is also considered to be a top deal maker in Silicon Valley, investing early in Uber, Zillow and a number of other successful companies.
KPCB partner Mary Meeker serves on the board at Lending Club, Square and DocuSign and has focused a good amount of time forecasting technology trends, authoring Internet industry reports for 20+ years. Meeker also played a key role in Kleiner’s investments in Twitter, JD.com, Spotify, SoundCloud, Waze, LegalZoom, Houzz, Airbnb, Pinterest and Bitstrips.
Chamath Palihapitiya is the founder of VC firm Social+Capital, which both incubates and invests in early-stage companies focused on breakthrough technologies in healthcare, education, financial services, mobile and enterprise software. Palihapitiya was also one of the original members of Facebook’s executive team and is a part owner of the Golden State Warriors.
We introduced the Best VC award in the fourth year of our annual awards show (it was VC firm the year before), so starting with year four:
Yuri Milner – 4th Annual Crunchies Winner
Russian-born billionaire investor Yuri Milner has the tech Midas touch, cutting checks for some of the best global deals this century through his VC firm DST Global. He’s now turned his focus to alien life, pledging $100 million through his new fund Breakthrough Initiatives to find extraterrestrial intelligence.
Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz – 5th Annual Crunchies Winner
The dynamic founding duo of VC firm Andreessen Horowitz took the top spot at the 5th annual Crunchies. The two created the firm also known as A16z in 2009 and went on to found some of the most well-known technology companies of our time, including Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.
Peter Thiel – 6th Annual Crunchies Winner
Where does one start with Peter Thiel? The billionaire VC and author of the New York Times bestseller “Zero to One” is famous for investing in edgy ideas, admonishing youngsters to drop out of college and for putting forth a good amount into life extension research. He’s also co-founded a number of defining technology companies, including PayPal and Palantir. Thiel also helped Facebook with its meteoric rise, initially bankrolling the then-tiny startup for $500,000 for a 10 percent stake in 2004.
Peter Fenton – 7th Annual Crunchies Winner
Peter Fenton is a general partner at Benchmark and sits on Twitter’s board of directors, where he recently played an integral role in picking the social media network’s new(ish) CEO Jack Dorsey. He has also been on Yelp’s board since 2006. The billionaire investor splits his focus between both consumer and enterprise startups. Fenton was a managing partner at Accel Partners before joining Benchmark.
Jim Goetz – 8th Annual Crunchies Winner
Sequoia Capital’s Jim Goetz focuses on cloud, mobile and enterprise and has made integral investments in startups such as Yik Yak and WhatsApp. Prior to joining Sequoia Capital in 2004, he had been a General Partner at Accel Partners and a founder of VitalSigns.
The Crunchies, described as the Oscars of the startup and technology world, will take place on February 8 at San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House this year. 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. Come see which VC makes it to the top of our list this year at the 9th Annual Crunchies.
In past years there have been long lines to get into the Crunchies. We’re fixing that by opening the doors earlier and adding lots more ticket scanners. It is also easier than ever to get a drink with an enormous bar on the lower level next to Best of Startup Alley!
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