Why Gigaom is no longer involved with the Crunchies awards

Once upon a time, there was an emerging category of tech media companies called “blogs,” which disrupted (pun halfheartedly intended) the existing tech media world with their fearless commentary, creative writing and bold sourcing. At the time, given the revulsion that many traditional tech media companies had for these blogs, it made sense for them to come together and articulate their own vision of the tech industry.

One of the products of that era was the Crunchies, an awards show of sorts co-hosted by Techcrunch, Gigaom, Venturebeat and ReadWriteWeb (at the beginning, anyway) that was originally designed to celebrate the best in tech startups and tech in general. The 8th annual Crunchies will be held next February at the Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco.

And for the first time in the history of the Crunchies, Gigaom will not be participating.

Ben Horowitz and Om Malik at the Crunchies, January 2012

There are a lot of reasons why we’ve finally decided to move on from the Crunchies. One of the biggest reasons is the fact that they are still called the Crunchies.

But truthfully, it’s more than that. The Crunchies have turned into the tech industry’s equivalent of “Nerd Prom,” the annual White House Correspondents Dinner that brings government sources and journalists together in an awkward drunken comedy show.

When the Crunchies was getting off the ground back in 2008, the tech industry was still a fairly casual group of like-minded individuals bent on pushing the limits of hardware and software. That’s still true to a large extent, but these days, tech is also a cash-generating behemoth that is hardly lacking for celebrity-style promotion of its more successful actors, and besieged by the MBA types that can no longer make an honest living at Lehman Brothers or Morgan Stanley.

During the last two years I’ve been involved with the Crunchies, bestowing those awards has involved two marathon meetings with TechCrunch and VentureBeat editors each December. During those meetings, we pretty much have to throw out the popular vote (in 2012, the good people of Grindr managed to rig the online vote so that Grindr got the most votes in every single category, including “VC of the Year”) and hash out who we think is most deserving.

For the most part, I’ve felt that the group did a pretty good job of this. But it requires us to make very subjective judgments of tech success, a process that has become a bit of a media popularity contest. The tech industry encompasses so many things — from delightfully engaged social messaging apps to machine-learning based enterprise computing platforms — and there are more roads to success than a faux-glam awards show can ever capture.

So we’ve decided to bow out. If you want to know what Gigaom thinks about the best and brightest of the tech industry, you can find it at our own events, including Roadmap 2014, which kicks off November 18th.

And if you need more convincing as to why the tech industry doesn’t really need an awards show, allow me to point you toward none other than HBO’s John Oliver, current host of Last Week Tonight and former host of the 2012 and 2013 Crunchies, delivering a broadside against tech like only he can at last year’s event.