Technology is all about innovation. The tech industry feeds off its ability to create new concepts and develop new products that transform the way we think and live. For the past decade the Crunchies Award show was a recognition of this. No it’s not the “Oscars” of the industry, but it’s been an excellent way to recognize people for their work. Since 2015, things have changed (and with good reason). After a terrible show highlighting the huge issues within the industry (i.e. not alot of women and minorities), the content and format were changed the following year. This year, it seems the award show has gone even further to acknowledge and promote diversity within the industry.
But is that the right thing to do?
As a ZD Net article points out “The Crunchies are trying to change things and it takes time. 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.” While commendable, I do believe there is a right and wrong way to push for diversity in an industry. A good example is #BlackLivesMatter. After years of protesting and raising awareness, we now have a President with ties to the Alt-Right movement and an Attorney General once deemed too racist to be the Attorney General of the state of Alabama (by a Republican majority I may add). Sadly the Crunchies may (key word here) be headed in the same direction.
I say this after reading the ZDNet article, which I truly appreciate. While most news outlets discussed the positives of the new focus on diversity, ZDNet talked about a subtle, but big change. The fact that CEO’s seem to be skipping the event due to a new format. To see what I mean, read the excerpt below:
I’ve been to nearly every Crunchies but the 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. Even Michael Arrington, the co-founder of the Crunchies, who always presents an award with sidekick GigaOM founder Om Malik, also absent, didn’t show up. 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 forcibly mixing diversity into the innovation message of the Crunchies awards isn’t compelling enough to retain an insider and top CEO audience; or maybe the Crunchies are running out of steam.
In my opinion, who attends an event like this is much more important than who actually wins. If you win an award and no one is there to see it, does it really matter? Obviously the Crunchies are going through a transition, no they shouldn’t go back to their pre-2015 format, nor should they redo another 2017 award show either. Like the industry a delicate balance must be created to include everyone. What that looks like, I’m not sure, but it shouldn’t result in hundreds of empty seats.