OffBeat

Protestors stage threadbare ‘Crappies’ awards outside Crunchies gala

Above: Street performer Tommi Avicolli Mecca played at the Crappies.

Image Credit: Richard Byrne Reilly

The first annual Crappies awards were something of a flop.

Billed by promoters as a massive protest against technology companies encroaching into San Francisco, the event attracted a handful of hipsters, punks, vagrants and the plain curious Monday night. Held outside the 7th annual Crunchies awards honoring the best in tech innovation at Davies Symphony Hall, police put the number of protesters at less than 40 people.

“We wanted to let the tech sector know the people of San Francisco want more transparency in the agreements between our community, the big tech companies moving here and the city itself,” said Tony Robles, one the Crappie organizers.

Wearing a vampire cape and fielding reporters questions underneath a placard of Yahoo head chief executive Marissa Mayer, a sticker over her mouth reading “act now,” Robles looked out over the crowd and sighed.

“It’s good to see that people showed up,” he said.

The Crappies included multiple categories: Twitter took first place as “tax evader of the year,” while Google handily won for the “bus in a bubble” category. Controversial investor Ron Conway cleaned up in the “angel investor of death” category, while the “diarrhea of the mouth” award was bestowed to venture capitalist Tom Perkins from Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers.

(Meanwhile, inside Davies Symphony Hall, Conway delivered a heartfelt speech about the need for tech companies and employees to give back to the community, and pledged $12,000 in matching funds for a fundraiser for nonprofits.)

Perkins, the 82 year-old co-founder of the firm bearing his name, came under intense fire in January when he compared people in the tech industry under fire for their wealth to Holocaust survivors in an op-ed piece published in the Wall Street Journal. He later apologized, and Kleiner Perkins did its best to distance the firm from his comments.

Ace Washington, who described himself as a citizen journalist who covers city hall for a non-profit publication, surveyed the thin crowd and laughed as the winners were announced.

“You know, ” he said, “its kind of creative how they came up with the name, the Crappies.”

Crappies winners received a colorfully painted toilet plunger emblazoned with stickers. Tech company representatives were nowhere to be seen.

The Crappies were organized by a host of San Francisco based civic organizations and unions, including Jobs with Justice, the United Service Workers West, and the Alliance for Californians for Community Empowerment, among other groups.

Jared Kaler, 25, held a placard with a large bar code printed on the front. A self-described tech worker, Kaler said he could identify with the small group of protesters but didn’t necessarily side with them.

“I’m not here to promote or negate any peoples point of view,” Kaler said, before walking off.

The Crunchies were organized by the technology publications VentureBeat, TechCrunch, and GigaOm. The sold-out event attracted some of the biggest names in the tech world, including CEO’s, venture capitalists and technology legends.

Wearing a colorful hat, street performer Tommi Avicolli Mecca played guitar and later talked about balancing the needs of the city’s lower income residents and the tech companies themselves.

“You have to look at the increasing evictions and the diversity of the city,” he said.

“Technology,” he added, “is not the only cause of the city’s problems.”