"My buddy TJ Miller told me that you bitches couldn't take the heat last year," Brooklyn 99's Chelsea Peretti, an Oakland native and last night's host of TechCrunch's annual Crunchies awards show said as she warmed up her audience. But in alluding to last year's fiasco of a host, Peretti had hit on a sore subject.
Miller, a star of HBO's Silicon Valley and the recent host of the Critics' Choice Awards, was sexist, racist, and generally rude, in part testing the crowd to see how many times he could say the word "bitch" and get away with it. The answer: a lot, and he couldn't really. You can read about the debacle on the Verge.
"Just kidding [TJ's] not my buddy," Peretti went on quickly, adding by way of explanation "I hate all white men... sorry everyone here!" The audience uttered a laugh that was only partly a groan. You can watch her opening monologue below.
As I saw it, there was some catharsis last night at the ninth iteration of the "Oscars of Tech," which Peretti said had "all the glitz and glam" of the Hollywood event with "none of the pressure of public interest." Burned last year and generally fatigued as the small startups the Crunchies celebrate falter and stare funding death in the face, this techie audience needed a chuckle.
But jokes about the death of Twitter and the end of startups as we know them may have been a bit on-the-nose. That was especially true given that the awards for best CEO and best "startup" went to Mark Zuckerberg and Uber, respectively. What has the innovation economy done for you lately, anyway?
Worse still: Neither Zuckerberg nor Uber's CEO Travis Kalanick was in attendance to receive his award. That was overwhelmingly the case at the under-attended event.
But maybe that isn't all bad for tech after all. As VC of the year Bill Gurley speculated to Re/code, his business and the Crunchies of the future might be “a more sober environment.”
That is to say that awards and champagne could soon be a thing of a bubbly past — one that felt distant even before the end of the night.