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Amid downturn, entrepreneurs recognized, and gathering sparks laughter
At the 2008 Crunchies award ceremony, held at the Herbst Theatre in San Francisco Friday evening, Facebook won the "Best Overall"
award. The Crunchies, hosted by TechCrunch, GigaOm, VentureBeat and Silicon Alley Insider, recognizes top entrepreneurs for their achievements in the last year. About 170,000 companies were nominated for awards, such as "Best bootstrapped startup" to "Best CEO," which went to Twitter co-founder and former CEO Jack Dorsey.
When accepting his award, Mark Zuckerberg humbly shared some enlightening words of wisdom explaining, "Despite how dark the times are now, we’ll be able to build something great and be the next beacon of light."
It was reassuring and motivating - a contrast to the more sobering and cynical opening liner of the event.
“It’s good to see so many of you turning out tonight, even after all the recent layoffs," said Erick Schonfeld, TechCrunch writer and co-host, who kicked off the evening.
The crowd seemed to take the sarcasm in stride, responding
with nervous laughter, as if to say that everyone is operating under
nuclear-winter conditions. For better or worse, however, they'd get through it.
The theme of the evening was, not surprisingly, the economic downturn. Interviews with top technology figures including Marissa Mayer of Google began with subjects involving the recession. The Richter Scales, a hilarious acappella act sang advice on how to make it through the hard times. Their ingenious idea: start up new porn sites poking fun at the sponsors of The Crunchies, with Web site names, such as "Silicon Valley Inside Her," and "Giga Moan."
The rest of the entertainment included a live performance by The Stanford Mobile Phone Orchestra, whose main instrument, the iPhone Ocarina app, covered Led Zeppelin’s, “Stairway to Heaven." 1938 Media produced a humorous set of intermission videos, one of which poked fun at blogger superstar Robert Scoble by portraying him as an annoying hand puppet.
Here's a list of the categories and winners:
Best Application Or Service - Google Reader
Best Technology Innovation/Achievement – Windows Live Mesh
Best Design – Cooliris
Best Bootstrapped Startup – Github
Most Likely to make the World a Better Place – GoodGuide
Best Enterprise - Amazon Web Services
Best International – eBuddy
Best Clean Tech – Project Frog
Best New Device or Gadget – iPhone 3G
Best Time Sink Site or Application – Tap Tap Revenge
Best Mobile Startup – Evernote
Best Mobile App – Imeem
Best Startup Founder – Jack Dorsey, Twitter
Best Startup CEO – Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook
Best New Startup of 2008 - FriendFeed
Best Overall - Facebook
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What is Twitter?
Twitter is an online information network that allows anyone with an account to post 140 character messages, called tweets. It is free to sign up. Users then follow other accounts which they are interested in, and view the tweets of everyone they follow in their "timeline." Most Twitter accounts are public, where one does not need to approve a request to follow, or need to follow back. This makes Twitter a powerful "one to many" broadcast platform where individuals, companies or organizations can reach millions of followers with a single message. Twitter is accessible from Twitter.com, our mobile website, SMS, our mobile apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, our iPad application, or 3rd party clients built by outside developers using our API. Twitter accounts can also be private, where the owner must approve follower requests.
Where did the idea for Twitter come from?
Twitter started as an internal project within the podcasting company Odeo. Jack Dorsey, and engineer, had long been interested in status updates. Jack developed the idea, along with Biz Stone, and the first prototype was built in two weeks in March 2006 and launched publicly in August of 2006. The service grew popular very quickly and it soon made sense for Twitter to move outside of Odea. In May 2007, Twitter Inc was founded.
How is Twitter built?
Our engineering team works with a web application framework called Ruby on Rails. We all work on Apple computers except for testing purposes.
We built Twitter using Ruby on Rails because it allows us to work quickly and easily--our team likes to deploy features and changes multiple times per day. Rails provides skeleton code frameworks so we don't have to re-invent the wheel every time we want to add something simple like a sign in form or a picture upload feature.
How do you make money from Twitter?
There are a few ways that Twitter makes money. We have licensing deals in place with Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft's Bing to give them access to the "firehose" - a stream of tweets so that they can more easily incorporate those tweets into their search results.
In Summer 2010, we launched our Promoted Tweets product. Promoted Tweets are a special kind of tweet which appear at the top of search results within Twitter.com, if a company has bid on that keyword. Unlike search results in search engines, Promoted Tweets are normal tweets from a business, so they are as interactive as any other tweet - you can @reply, favorite or retweet a Promoted Tweet.
At the same time, we launched Promoted Trends, where companies can place a trend (clearly marked Promoted) within Twitter's Trending Topics. These are especially effective for upcoming launches, like a movie or album release.
Lastly, we started a Twitter account called @earlybird where we partner with other companies to provide users with a special, short-term deal. For example, we partnered with Virgin America for a special day of fares on Virginamerica.com that were only accessible through the link in the @earlybird tweet.
What's next for Twitter?
We continue to focus on building a product that provides value for users.
We're building Twitter, Inc into a successful, revenue-generating company that attracts world-class talent with an inspiring culture and attitude towards doing business.