Imgur, Pinterest, Grindr, Path: Why Web communities swept the Crunchies

A splashy awards show put on by tech blogs is a rare chance for the makers of the social Web to rub shoulders—and celebrate their victories.


Owen Thomas

Internet Culture

Published Feb 3, 2012   Updated Jun 2, 2021, 9:53 pm CDT

The Crunchies bill themselves as Silicon Valley’s Oscars. Like Hollywood’s far glitzier gala, the event, held annually in San Francisco, California, is a chance for an industry to strut its stuff. But unlike the movie business, tech startups aren’t known for their glamour.

Until this year, when we can say this much for the geeks: They made an effort.

Sure, Dropbox founder Drew Houston showed up in his usual hoodie-and-jacket combo, as did countless Mark Zuckerberg wannabes. But Dave Morin, CEO of mobile social app maker Path, sported a three-piecer. VentureBeat writer Jolie O’Dell mixed Marilyn Monroe with Katy Perry. TechCrunch’s Eric Eldon looked more James Bond than James Joyce in a gray suit. (The only disappointment: Google executive Marissa Mayer, formerly known as the fashion plate of Palo Alto, frustrated Vogue readers with her shapeless gray sweater.)

(Full disclosure: The Crunchies are put on by TechCrunch, GigaOm, and VentureBeat; before joining the Daily Dot, I served as VentureBeat’s executive editor.)

Beyond the sartorial surprises, this year’s Crunchies delighted with its winners. Last year, I remember, had the usual tech suspects: Groupon, Flipboard, the iPad. But this year, the monkey-statue awards went to the likes of Pinterest, the fast-growing image board; Grindr, a mobile hookup app for gay men; and Imgur, an image-hosting site favored by redditors made the cut—not to mention Path, my favorite social app of late.

A company is not a community. But these winners aren’t just building apps; they’re building homes for the people of the Internet. They are easing the challenge of only connecting.

The storytellers who create movies transport us into another world for a couple of hours: a worthy achievement. But the imaginative worlds of the Crunchies winners help us tell the stories of our lives. They deserve an evening out. Self-congratulations are in order.

I live-tweeted the event, and Ken Yeung of lensed it. Here’s a roundup of our coverage.

Photos by Ken Yeung

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*First Published: Feb 3, 2012, 2:00 pm CST