Thousands of techies gathered in San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall on Thursday night for the eighth annual Crunchies Awards, known as the Oscars of Silicon Valley.
Actor TJ Miller served as host, shepherding the venture capitalists, CEOs, and tech reporters through the evening. But many people weren’t impressed by his performance and found his attempt at humour insulting.
Miller’s show “Silicon Valley” on HBO satirizes everything the audience represents. The series revolves around six young men who launch a company and live together in a startup incubator-house run by a Peter Thiel-inspired entrepreneur, played by Miller.
The ceremony started out strong, with Miller teasing techies about the way they dress and their absurd amounts of wealth, and reading off alternative slogans for the startups nominated for awards. But the night quickly unravelled when Miller made one of many jokes at Uber’s expense.
“And the Crunchie for not constantly stepping in s— goes to Travis Kalanick,” Miller said. “So does the Crunchie for constantly stepping in s—.”
A woman in the audience, sitting next to divisive billionaire Kalanick and holding a sleeping dog in her lap, heckled Miller with a simple “boooo.” Miller responded immediately — his tone quickly escalating.
“Hey, Asians aren’t supposed to be this entitled in the United States,” Miller said, shortly before calling her a b—-.
Here’s Kalanick and the woman before the show. Unbeknownst to Miller, she is Gabi Holzwarth, Kalanick’s girlfriend.
For 10 painful minutes, he and Holzwarth batted back and forth. He asked why she was here and lambasted her company, delivery startup Shyp. “It’s like FedEx but it’s spelled wrong,” Miller said.
Then the actor annihilated her for daring to bring a small dog to the Crunchies.
“Miss, do you have your dog here? Is that real?” he asked in disbelief, prompting her to hold it up for the audience to see. “Two questions. How did you get that dog in here? Second question: Did you Shyp it?”
Eventually Miller left the stage and the presentation continued. But during every sequential appearance on stage, Miller made a show of apologizing to Holzwarth and Kalanick, whose net worth he says he Google-searched backstage.
The audience didn’t seem to enjoy Miller’s crude jokes. Katie Jacobs Stanton, who attended The Crunchies on behalf of Twitter, says she’ll never go again. “I was so uncomfortable I wanted to leave,” Stanton wrote on Medium. She wasn’t just appalled by Miller. She says other Crunchie presenters talked about enjoying women’s “hoohas.”
TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington also commented about Miller’s trainwreck performance when he took the stage. He refused to read from the award ceremony’s script stating, “It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen. Every time someone comes on stage, it’s like ‘oo, ow.’… One more ‘bitch’ and something’s going to happen.”
At the end of the night, Shyp’s official Twitter account sent this message to Miller.
You can watch the full ceremony here. To see the initial ruffle between Miller and Holzwarth, skip ahead to one hour and 37 minutes.