My Crunchies Picks
Here are some of the Crunchies categories with results and my thoughts. I meant to give these before hand, but it was a really busy week. Today’s a me-day though.
Best Application Or Service
Google Reader (winner)
MySpace Music (runner-up)
They nailed that one, though I think there’s a strong argument for Yelp as runner-up. Using Meebo is about as enjoyable as a root canal. Minted I’ve never heard of, though it actually looks cool. This is the Crunchies though, leave your business model at the door.
Who I would have nominated: I think Xbox Live has to come in here. It’s had a killer year, especially with Arcade and now Netflix integration. It’s kind of like the iPhone platform but with 2x the units in circulation, attached to everyone’s living room television, and focused around treating developers well and allowing them, even encouraging them, to actually make money.
Best Technology Innovation/Achievement
Facebook Connect (runner-up)
Google Friend Connect
Windows Live Mesh (winner)
I like BOSS here. A hundred times I’ve had some idea as to how search could be improved, but every one of them requires tremendous effort. Indexing the web is a massive undertaking. Now with BOSS, I could actually get them done.
Mesh, by the way, is awesome even in it’s infancy. In my travelling days I used dyndns and port forwarding to allow me to remote desktop into to one of my home PCs. It worked to some extent, but given the hotel connection and the other moving parts it was problematic to say the least. With Mesh it’s trivial to log in and snag a file.
Connect is cool too, I’m waiting to see if/how that one shakes out. Chrome is neat but like 95% of what Google launches/acquires, it won’t amount to anything. Swype looks interesting from the website, but as I can’t find any products it’s actually on, I may never know.
I still hate Cooliris because a previous product of theirs, that showed you previews of any link you hover over, caused me to accidentally drop a table in PHPMyAdmin. I like FriendFeed, but they don’t belong here. There’s a difference between minimalism and good design.
My nominee: Mint.com. Kongregate.com is pretty fresh too.
Best Bootstrapped Startup
2008 was the year of GitHub, everyone else was playing for second place. BackType is pretty neat, and would be my second pick. I had no idea they were bootstrapped. Actually, I’ve never read anything at all about their founding team.
Statsheet might turn out awesome once it gets any sports anyone cares about. The others seem kinda like me-too Web 2.0 fluff, especially the runner up.
Most Likely To Make The World A Better Place
I probably would have reversed those. Kiva’s pretty awesome, and based on the same concept that Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize for. I guess TechCrunch readers didn’t find that as appealing as “Yelp for the stuff in the really smelly section of Whole Foods”.
My nomination: Ride Share.
Best Enterprise Startup
Amazon Web Services (winner)
Google App Engine (runner-up)
Has anyone used Google App Engine yet? At all? Ever? That product seems to be a bigger dud than Lively. AWS is undisputed king here probably, but I’d go with Force.com for the silver.
My nominee: Microsoft. They’re no less a startup than Amazon or Google, and they make way more money off of enterprise than anyone.
Best International Startup
I’ll abstain since the only one I know of is OpenX, and wow is their UI awful.
Best Clean Tech Startup
Better Place (runner-up)
Project Frog (winner)
Nothing useful to say here, except I like frogs. So I agree.
Best New Gadget/Device
Android G1 (runner-up)
Ausus EEE 1000 Series
iPhone 3G (winner)
Hard to argue with iPhone 3G’s sales numbers. I don’t own any of these. MinoHD looks sweet though.
My nomination for cool-looking gadget I haven’t used: Dash GPS.
Best Time Sink Site/Application
Tap Tap Range (winner)
Texas Hold Em (runner-up)
If you’re looking at it from the most-enjoyable angle, they got it right. From the business angle it’s a little different.
Mob Wars and its clones make more profit in one month than every private company in these all of the above categories combined will make in their entire existence. (Granted, that would be true of a company that broke even, but you get what I mean.) It’s not even close. Texas Hold’em (I’m assuming the mean the Zynga game) probably makes more money than any one Mob Wars version alone, so it’s a good runner-up from that angle too.
Zivity, despite having pictures of naked women, gets barely more traffic than my blog. How is that possible? I could probably throw some soft core in every post here and do better than them, and I wouldn’t need to raise $8 million to do it. Some VC is going to be fired over that one.
Best Mobile Startup
Evernote had to win, they’ve been en fuego, though Qik is too. I would have pegged them for second. Chacha looks cool. Skyfire is cool, it makes web-browsing a little less painful for those of us not on an iPhone. Is Posterous a mobile startup? I wouldn’t have put them in this category.
My nominee: SGN. They keep pumping out one popular mobile app after another. Still a weak category though.
Best Mobile Application
Google Mobile Application (runner-up)
imeem mobile (winner)
I don’t use any, but I’ve messed with Ocarina and it’s pretty damn cool. Then again, my dog is named Link, so I’m biased. I did download Pandora for Windows Mobile, but then I realized that I never want to listen to music on my phone. I wish my car had A2DP in its Bluetooth options.
My nominee: Shazam. Wow is that cool, both from a “how the hell did they do that” perspective, and from the practicality one. Also, I like Urban Spoon, but only because the name is hilarious. It sounds like an app that finds black people for you to snuggle with.
Best Startup Founder
Linda Avery and Anne Wojcicki (23andMe)
Michael Birch and Xochi Birch (Bebo)
Robert Kalin (Etsy)
Evan Williams, Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone (Twitter ) (winner)
Paul Buchheit, Jim Norris, Sanjeev Singh, Bret Taylor (FriendFeed ) (runner-up)
Is this a joke? Even most of the people who love Twitter admit that they’ve botched the execution in almost every way imaginable from the very moment they started. I’d give the
m worst startup founders if that were a category. They took a great idea, built a shoddy implementation, and have since done everything they could to make the people who love it stop using it.
FriendFeed has been “the Twitter that actually works” since they launched, so they have to do better. But if I rephrase this category as Founder Whose Startup I’d Most Like To Own 10% Of In My 401k If They Were Publicly Traded, Etsy’s the runaway favorite, with Anne Wojcicicicicicicicicki and company at 23andMe at a distant #2.
Best Startup CEO
Tony Hsieh (Zappos)
Jason Kilar (Hulu) (runner-up)
Elon Musk (SpaceX)
Andy Rubin (Android)
Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook) (winner)
Yeah, I’m not buying it at all. They’ve got traffic, but Hulu will mint money, Zappos already does, and the verdict is out on whether or not Facebook will ever really be worth anything. Zappos has copycats from both Amazon and Gap Inc, Facebook is a copycat.
Again, going by the 401k theory, Zappos is far and away the winner. I’d rather own them than Facebook by a very, very wide margin. After that I’d choose SpaceX, assuming they get some rockets to not explode during liftoff. That’s sort of a big deal for a company that makes passenger spacecraft, though I guess if they can’t improve they can at least repurpose them as weapons and sell them to Hamas.
Android hasn’t been a startup since Google acquired them in 2005, so again, totally ridiculous categorization. They might as well just add Linux or Ruby on Rails to this category while they’re at it.
Best New Startup Of 2008
Tough category. FriendFeed’s pretty neat. I use Dropbox, it’s pretty awesome, and I can think of ways for it to actually achieve revenue. I like what I’m seeing from Tapulous a lot too. They’re the one company that seems to have a shot at both competing in the app-store, where free apps are overweighted, yet still making money. The rest of the category is a dud.
My nominee: Github deserves at least a nomination here too. They’re popular among the early adopters, and growing. They have a business model. I don’t know if they’re profitable, but it would shock me if they weren’t.
Best Overall Startup In 2008
Amazon Web Services
Who the hell is categorizing here? One of these is a partnership between publicly traded corporations, one is a product of a publicly traded corporation, one of them is an open-source software project managed by division of a publicly traded corporation. If AWS is eligible, then Xbox Live Arcade should be too.
I’d choose to own the 2 that are actually startups in the following order:
So technically I guess TechCrunch got it right. Facebook wins almost by default, because unlike Twitter it actually works more often than not and has some tiny, almost imperceptible glimmer of a business model. Then again, I still subscribe to the outdated notion that businesses exist to make money, rather than to waste private equity, and I can think of at least 100 startups I’d put ahead of either.
My nominee for this category: Zynga. Those guys are monetizing at an alarming rate. By the 401k theory they might be my top pick right now. In fact, while I’m at it, throw their founders in the Best Founders category and they’re at least runner up there too, probably the same in CEO.