(AFP) – Jan 19, 2008
SAN FRANCISCO (AFP) — Techno-superstars that brought the world Facebook, Digg, Twitter and other hot websites are among the Internet celebrities honored by big-time bloggers with first-ever "Crunchies" awards.
Nearly a thousand devotees of online firms and trends changing cultures around the world gathered in Herbst Theater in San Francisco late Friday to pay homage to websites voted best in online polls.
Popular blogging firms GigaOm, Read/WriteWeb, VentureBeat and TechCrunch came up with the awards and voting was done via their websites.
"This is a great event for the whole community," said Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who took home Crunchies for best overall website and best founder.
The awards are 14-inch-tall plastic statues of a cap-wearing monkey poised to smash television sets and other electronic devices with a bone in a reference to a scene from the 1968 film "2001: A Space Odyssey."
The awards are tributes to Internet entrepreneurs and will hopefully spur risks on "disruptive technology" that improves lives while making money for creators, according to VentureBeat editor Matt Marshall.
"People think it's about greed, but we look at it different," Marshall said. "It's go West young man and make your dream, leveraging technology."
Friday's event was the first glitzy Internet start-up love-fest in San Francisco since the Webby Awards began here in 1996 during the famous dot-com boom.
Webby Awards, with winners picked by The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, are billed as the Internet's Oscars and the annual ceremony is now held in New York City.
Herbst Theater teemed with casually-clad young turks from the Internet as winners were announced during a playful event that included a group singing "Here comes another bubble, it's a monster rally all around the valley..."
Audience-members keenly aware of the dot-com bust of 2000 and the sky-high valuation of Internet firm's such as Facebook, recently pegged at 15 billion dollars despite not making a profit, chuckled at the lyrics.
Crunchies award categories included the best place to waste time online.
The Time Sink award went to website Kongregate, a treasure trove of online games.
Twitter, which lets people share every moment of their lives in brief text messages, won a Crunchies Award for Best Mobile Start-up.
"My mom is a new Twitter user, which is troubling," GigaOm editor-in-chief Om Malik quipped while handing out the award.
"I think with the iPhone and Google phone and the recent changes in the landscape, finally Silicon Valley is becoming the center of innovation in that sense. We see more companies that marry the web and mobile."
In a lone tribute to an Internet veteran, a Crunchies Award for Best New Gadget was bestowed on Apple. No one came to claim it.
Instead, Crunchies organizers played a comic video of an Apple chief executive Steve Jobs impersonator mocking "a stupid plastic monkey award."
Kevin Rose, founder of Digg, proclaimed the proceedings "very cool" while accepting a Crunchies Award for Best User-Generated Content Website.
France-based Netvibes, which helps people manage their online worlds, received a Crunchies Award for Best International Start-Up.
"For me it is like a dream," Netvibes chief operating officer Freddy Mini told AFP as he mingled with other winners. "All these guys are stars if you like the Internet. It's good to be with them."
Crunchies winners posed for photos backstage, Academy Awards style, before joining attendees upstairs for sparkling white wine, Syrah, and vodka drinks.
A balconied lounge was packed with Internet hipsters swapping stories, ideas and business cards.
"Obviously, this is a wonderful period of human history we are going through right now and it is OK to celebrate that," TechCrunch online magazine editor Michael Arrington said of the premier event.
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