TechFellow Awards Disappoints

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Is it just me or do you think the TechFellow Awards was pretty lame and sort of seemed tossed off?

The TechFellow Awards presented itself as being all about disruptive innovation and making innovation happen. They had a huge list of prominent judges and my expectations were high. I was looking forward to learning about the newest disruptive innovations coming out of the crucible of cutting edgeness, the hotbed of invention, the bleeding fringe type stuff.

What we got was Social Networking, Virtual Goods, Instant Message integration, an audience vote for your favorite artist site, web email, chat and spam protection.

All good stuff but not really innovative in 2009. This is not meant as a cut to the award winners, they all deserve recognition, especially Eric Reis who is currently carrying the mantle of  “geek idol” and spreading much valuable knowledge and experience to the startupsphere.

My point is that the expectations were set for disruptive innovation and what was delivered was 2005 technology.

Where were the things changing our life currently? Surely the founders and executives at the following companies can be considered equally or more disruptive and innovative.

Presence based mobile applications  enabled by Wi-Fi Positioning System: Skyhook Wireless

Speech recogition: Vlingo

Video analytics and search technology: Visible Measures, ScanScout

Immersive gaming: Harmonix Music

Electronic Ink:  E-Ink

New business category and marketing tools:  Hubspot

Dev Tools: jQuery

Power Innovation: A123

And that is just the Boston list.

What about cloud computing, ever hear of Rails or Django? Real time search, micro sharing, new advertising platforms and so on.

There has to be more going on there, it is Silicon Valley for gosh sake. The idea is a great one and the companies that receive the geek grants of $ 50 will make good use of it.

Again, this is all about the expectation of savoring the freshness of disruptive innovation and getting served day old bread.

Am I off base here? Let me know what you think and feel free to add deserving innovators.

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4 Comments to “TechFellow Awards Disappoints”

  1. Well, this wouldn’t be the first time when the marketing promises had nothing to do with reality, now would it? I for one no longer belive in promises like this – until I see the first edition of said ceremony I’ll remain sceptical.

  2. hi Tom –

    just to clarify: the goal with our TechFellow Awards was to identify notable & innovative leaders from the past 5-10 years, and then let them tap the next generation of disruptive startups via their investment suggestions / $50K selections over the next 12 months.

    while I’m sure there are many other deserving award winners from other innovative areas, we felt pretty comfortable with our 22 TechFellow awardees (and in fact, we substantially increased our original target of only 12 recipients as a result of the depth of deserving talent brought to our attention by both the nominating cmte and the open nominations from TechCrunch).

    thus, we hope we aren’t ignoring more recent innovation, rather our explicit goal was to have our winners help us find the next group of world-beaters via future investment. if the 2-step process was unclear from our messaging & PR, our apologies.

    again your additional suggestions below seem to be of merit as well, but we are certainly not in any way ashamed of our picks or process, and we might even claim that our process itself is pretty darn innovative itself.

    your mileage may vary of course 😉

    – dave mcclure
    founders fund

    • Dave, thanks for stopping by. The issue is expectations.

      What you are saying is that the currently disruptive innovation will come when the funds are distributed by the Techfellow recipients.

      That did not come through in my reading of the initial announcement.

      I agree that the idea of the Techfellow Awards is very cool and innovative and I look forward to seeing the funding results.

      Again, my main point is that there might even be more innovative recipients of the “Geek Grants”. Maybe the candidates nominated by the open nomination process, limited the judges choices.

      It just seemed that the field of candidates was viewed through a very focused aperture which produced a somewhat homogenized result.

  3. The only context I can see this would make sense is popularization of “science”. For those interested in tech news, this really is nothing new. For ignor…ehm, the rest of the world – it might be news. But to gain interest from someone uninterested (bare with me), the information needs a good looking, flashy packaging.
    This one is wrapped in brown paper …

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