The Crunchies: An Aspirational Fantasy Of Startup Diversity; Plus Chelsea Peretti's App Ideas
Chelsea Peretti (above) a comedic actress, introduced the 10th Annual Crunchies — awards celebrating startups and VCs in Silicon Valley — and managed some decent jokes poking fun at the techie audience and coming up with some great app ideas. (The final one is a killer app — people will need full-cycle tracking of nutrients to create total body datasets. See my video here.)
Diversity was once again the bold theme of the event as seen in the careful selections of the nominees for the awards. Time and again the stage was filled with winners: startup teams of mixed color and gender.
People viewing from outside Silicon Valley would be tremendously impressed that our young startups are so progressive and clearly want to build the future the right way.
But the staged diversity of the Crunchies is far removed from actual reality — the audience of young techies and VCs looks nothing like them. Startup teams continue to be predominately: male, white/Asian; from privileged backgrounds.
The Crunchies are clearly trying to push things forward in the right direction and it takes time. The message needs to be repeated many times.
Soon the startups will get a clue: if you want to be nominated to win a Crunchie you’d better show significant diversity in your teams.
The TJ Miller effect...
The Crunchies has changed a lot since 2015 following a stunning performance from TJ Miller, a standup comedian and one of the actors in HBO's Silicon Valley sitcom. During a long evening of superb improv with the audience he called someone a "bitch." It was scandalous. It was disruptive. It shocked an audience more comfortable with unspoken workplace misogyny.
The organizers apologized and since then they bend over backwards, and they would bend even further if they could, to present an awards show that is all about diversity in capital letters and in bold typeface but without spelling it out because that would be tedious.
The Crunchies show highly diverse startup teams being successful. Success at winning awards equates with likely future success in business.
Monkey see monkey do. The Crunchies award consists of a black monkey holding a stick. The message will eventually get through.
It was a dark and stormy night...
I've been to nearly every Crunchies but these last two have attracted smaller numbers of key people. I would normally run into a lot of high level contacts, a lot of top Silicon Valley CEOs would show up -- but now they don't -- with the exception of Marissa Mayer, Yahoo CEO, who was presenting an award.
There were a hundred or so empty seats in the front rows reserved for extra important people who didn't turn up.
It might have been the weather. Or it might be that the new format of the Crunchies is not compelling enough for Silicon Valley’s A-list; or maybe the Crunchies are running out of steam.
Ten years ago the Crunchies held an electric energy and celebrated scrappy startups and unique thinkers. The Crunchies will have a much brighter future if it can recapture some its past.
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Chelsea Peretti introduction: https://youtu.be/jpSH6HS45EI