THE CRUNCHIES: With Billions At Stake, San Francisco's Tech Elite Take A Night To Celebrate

Crunchies 2012Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer

Photo: Owen Thomas, Business Insider

Thursday night, hundreds of members of the technology elite—founders, investors, hustlers, hackers—gathered at the Louise M. Davies Symphony Hall for the sixth annual Crunchies Awards, a ceremony which celebrates private-stock valuations and product launches instead of box-office scores and film premieres.When a handful of tech blogs launched The Crunchies five years ago, the notion of an awards ceremony for startups modelled after the Oscars seemed like a self-mocking joke—and indeed, few took it seriously at the time.

Fast-forward to 2013, and it’s clear as day that the tech world has stars like Marissa Mayer, Mark Zuckerberg, Aaron Levie, Brian Chesky, and Kevin Systrom. And arguably, the digital products they launch on the world are far more important than the ephemeral celluloid narratives of Hollywood.

We donned a tuxedo, brought our cameras, and took our seats.

First stop: a pre-party thrown by Menlo Ventures, the backer of Uber and Fab. Wall Street Journal reporter Evelyn Rusli shared a moment with Box marketer Ashley Mayer.

Sarah McBride from Reuters talked to BitTorrent founder Bram Cohen.

Menlo also backed Getaround, founded by Jessica Scorpio.

On to Davies Symphony Hall.

TechCrunch's Mike Butcher took a selfie.

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky greeted friends as he arrived.

AllThingsD's Mike Isaac, right,was alarmed to learn just how tall CNET reporter Casey Newton is, as Jessica Gross of Inner Circle Labs watched.

People like Asana cofounder Justin Rosenstein couldn't wait for the ceremony to start, so they danced in their seats.

Google Ventures partner Kevin Rose, centre, sat with fiancée Darya Pino, a neuroscientist.

Startup investor Ron Conway and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee spoke about the city's increasingly dominant role in technology.

Yahoo sponsored the awards, and CEO Marissa Mayer spoke.

Mayer's husband, Zack Bogue, watched her speak. He is cofounder of Data Collective.

TechCrunch, GigaOm, and VentureBeat jointly put on the awards. Here's the crew from VentureBeat: Christina Farr (in red), editor-in-chief Matt Marshall, and executive editor Dylan Tweney.

The Daily Show's John Oliver slayed the crowd.

VentureBeat's Meghan Kelly and Yelp director Keith Rabois introduced the first category. Many attendees took note of Rabois's public appearance, coming shortly after his shock resignation from Square, the payments startup.

NASA's Bobak Ferdowsi, flight director of the Mars Curiosity mission, accepted an award. His mohawk has its own Tumblr.

TechCrunch's Ryan Lawler and angel investor Chris Sacca swapped jokes. Lawler's shirt was a visual jibe at Sacca, known for his fondness for Western attire.

Mayer brought a large retinue. Besides Bogue, we spotted chief of staff Andrew Schulte and Yahoo CMO Kathy Savitt.

Sequoia Capital's Roelof Botha was brave enough to make jokes about one of its portfolio bombs, colour, with GigaOm's Tom Krazit.

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom, up for several awards, looked serious in the audience.

Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann accepts an award, the company's second.

In a hilarious bit, TechCrunch's Jordan Crook and Benchmark's Matt Cohler pretended to walk off stage after realising that Cohler, a venture capitalist, was presenting an award for bootstrapped startups that hadn't taken any institutional money.

Techmeme's Gabe Rivera accepted an award.

TechCrunch's Drew Olanoff and the Wu-Tang Clan's Gza present an award.

A Makerbot team member accepted the award with a tie manufactured in one of the company's 3D printers.

BuzzFeed's Ze Frank cracked jokes.

Reddit CEO Yishan Wong said the site's founders deserved credit for its award.

Instagram's Kevin Systrom was all smiles as he accepted an award for founder of the year.

TechCrunch's Josh Constine and PayPal cofounder Max Levchin competed for best casual look.

TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington savaged AOL CEO Tim Armstrong for not backing him in a dispute with AOL executive Arianna Huffington which led to Arrington's departure.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg showed up with no fanfare—he just bounded up on stage from the audience to accept an award for CEO of the year.

Zuck!

Zuck!

Zuck!

TechCrunch coeditors Eric Eldon and Alexia Tsotsis, along with VentureBeat's Matt Marshall and GigaOm's Om Malik, presented the final award, for best overall startup.

GitHub CEO Tom Preston-Werner accepted. Last year, GitHub was up for best bootstrapped startup—but it wasn't eligible this year, after raising $100 million from Andreessen Horowitz.

No seat-fillers here: Mayer, Botha, and other presenters and nominees watched attentively. Minus the occasional smartphone glance.

Instagram's Systrom shared a celebratory moment with girlfriend Nicole Schuetz, whom he thanked in his acceptance speech.

To the afterparty!

These ladies served up Silicon Valley fashion realness.

Sam Shank, CEO of HotelTonight, right, was in good spirits, despite losing to Google Maps in the best mobile app category. (At left: entrepreneur Ed Anuff and Sarah Kunst, who's a consultant for Mohr Davidow Ventures.)

Box CEO Aaron Levie traded words with well-wishers.

That 'hawk!

Google Glassholes were everywhere. (That's what we call people wearing Google's fancy Internet headsets.)

TechCrunch's Jordan Crook and Alexia Tsotsis chatted on camera.

This is what passed for dancing.

Bloomberg's Doug MacMillan was working, we think.

Public-relations pro Vanessa Camones paused to say goodbye to social-media marketer John Boitnott.

We never figured out what was up with this woman's Britannia dress, but it ruled.

Uber was very popular as an exit strategy. Marissa Mayer and Zack Bogue hopped in a town car. And that was it!

This year, it was the mohawk; last year, it was investor Shervin Pishevar's hairdo that had the buzz ...

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