Uber, Product Hunt, and Marc Benioff. Who won the Crunchies and why?

Hollywood celebrates the Academy Awards on Sun, Feb. 22nd, but the San Francisco Bay Area had their version of the Oscars on Feb. 5th with the 8th Annual Crunchies Awards.

The Crunchies is the night of prizes and praise for the startup world. Held at the San Francisco Davies Symphony Hall and hosted by TechCrunch (TC), it hands out awards—selected through popular vote and the Crunchies Committee—in the categories of Best Design, Best Enterprise Startup, CEO of the Year, and Best Overall Startup, just to name a few.

For laughs, the Crunchies enlisted as host comedian T.J.Miller, who currently stars in the HBO show that parodies the startup world, Silicon Valley. He entertained, but also exhausted a portion of the audience with his satirical jokes about the industry.

However, according to Cruncies award winner Stewart Butterfield, co-founder of Slack, “The Valley loves satire because it cuts to the core of the issue: Much of the work and money in the startup industry is absurd. It’s almost disturbing. Satire is a way to cope.”

Joking aside, let me cut to the chase and tell you who won big at the Crunchies (and see how our predictions stacked up):

Best Overall Startup of 2014

And the award goes to… Uber.

Uber CEO accepts the award

Uber is a mobile app connecting passengers with drivers for hire. They beat out runner-up GoPro—a company that develops, manufactures, and markets high-definition personal cameras—as well as finalists Snapchat, Stripe, and Tinder.

Uber began in 2009 as a luxury car service in San Francisco. Fast forward to today, and Uber is valued as $41+ billion and operates in more than 250 cities worldwide. But that’s not it: Uber is also exploring new business avenues such as transporting goods and services —think Amazon Fresh and Google Shopping Express—on top of its massive international expansion.

Best New Startup of 2014

Product Hunt takes it, with Shyp as runner-up among finalists Bellhops, OnePlus, and Slack.


Product Hunt, with their slogan “the best new products, every day,” began as an email newsletter about founder Ryan Hoover’s favorite products.  Today, it is a platform for product-loving people geeking out about the latest mobile apps, websites, hardware projects, and tech creations.

How does it add to my day, personally? I love “The Top … ” lists. As a user, I love the variety of Product Hunts that populate my inbox such as Upstart100 (rebels, dreamers, contrarians, and big thinkers) and Nuu (new restaurants and bars in my city and everywhere I want to go).

CEO of the Year

Let’s hear it for Marc Benioff of Salesforce.com.  Runner up was Marissa Mayer of Yahoo, alongside other finalists Tim Cook (Apple), Drew Houston (Dropbox), and Travis Kalanick (Uber).

Marc Benioff

Why did he win?

Probably because of the Salesforce Foundation, which is based on a simple idea: the 1-1-1 model. The 1-1-1 Pledge invites all entrepreneurs and their companies to commit important resources (product, equity, and time) to integrate a philanthropic mind-set, culture, and action plan into one’s business from the get-go (as Salesforce did). Since the birth of the Foundation, Salesforce has given over $73+ million in grants, 743,000+ hours of community service, and provided donations to over 23,000 non-profits and higher education institutions.

To learn more about the rest of the total 20 categories, winners, and runners-up, see the full list at TechCrunch.

But I also encourage you to take a peak and compare this list to last year’s winners and runners-up. How many are still alive? How many are trending up and grew and have the potential to go all the way to an IPO or become an M&A target? As Silicon Valley’s famous mantra goes, “Fail fast, fail often.”