After spending most of Monday amid all the start-ups and hoopla at the technology pitch-fest known as TechCrunch50, it can take a bit to digest all that Web 2.0 wonderfulness. Everyone is waiting for the award ceremony to be held late West Coast time on Tuesday. A panel of tech celebrity judges, including Netscape founder and CEO Mark Andreesen and Digg CEO and founder Kevin Rose, pick the winner. Winners get $50,000, roughly $4 billion (yes, you read that right) worth of free online advertising, and probably a mountain of term sheets from amorous venture capitalists. (Update: The winner was RedBeacon, a company I mention below. Nice work, guys). But here's DailyFinance's own award ceremony, based on what I saw on Day 1.
Company Most Likely to Get Steamrollered/Bought by Google: Yext.com showed off a very nifty tool that uses voice recognition technology to transcribe and automatically categorize phone calls from potential customers to local merchants (gyms, mechanics, etc). This has been something of a Holy Grail for local advertising companies, as local merchants like calls and not clicks. Yext CEO, in response to a question from Google's Vice President of User Experience Marissa Mayer, compared his company's technology to Google Voice with its own automatic transcription technology. Oops. You got that right.
Best Smackdown of a TechCrunch50 Judge by Contestant: TheSwop.com. TheSwop is a site that aims to kickstart a barter market for professional services focused on start-ups, PR people, lawyers, designers and others servicing the small start-up space.
Here's how it went down: Roelof Botha, former chief financial officer of PayPal and partner at Sequoia Capital, said "I hate to tell you this but barter has been dead for 2,000 to 3,000 years." TheSwop.com CEO Jonathan Morriss responded, "That's odd.There is at present a $65 billion global marketplace in barter including dozens of Fortune 500 companies." (dead silence for several seconds afterwards). Whoa. Guess he's not going to get term sheet from Sequoia.
Best Disruptive Technology: Mota.com provides tools to make it much easier for used car owners and used car buyers to match up. It includes online access to inspection reports, mobile inspection services and national used car pricing data. Last time I checked, car dealers made huge profits off of used cars. The product could also totally disrupt companies like AutoNation that specifically make money by paying people a low price to buy used cars and selling them used cars at a higher price than those cars might fetch on the private market. As if these two types of companies didn't have enough problems with the recession and the severe cutbacks of the dealer ranks by U.S. car makers. The company tagline also took best in show: "Good Carma." Most excellent.
Best Giveaways: RedBeacon aims to match up services and goods buyers with local providers. Customers can issue service requests and get bids back from providers. Think of it as a broader version of ServiceMagic with much better Web tools and no charge to vendors to sign up or to bid on jobs. The company CEO demoed how he had used the tool to put out a bid for red velvet cupcakes to be delivered to the show. The delivery caused a stir as hungry attendants scrambled for the goods. Y Combinator CEO Paul Graham couldn't hold out and was the first judge to scarf one, followed by Google's Marissa Mayer.
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