Seattle 2.0 Awards Are a Smash; Picnik Cleans Up

In 1939, it was “Gone with the Wind.” 2009’s Academy Awards darling was “Slumdog Millionaire.” And now the Seattle startup community has its own awards sweep: Picnik, the photo-editing software company founded by Mike Harrington and Darrin Massena and led by CEO Jonathan Sposato, took home all four prizes for which it was nominated at last night’s inaugural Seattle 2.0 Awards.

It was a full house buzzing with energy and humor at the Pacific Science Center—a couple hundred people at least, and a great venue. Organizer Marcelo Calbucci kicked things off, saying, “I love startups. There’s no better place for startups than the U.S. And in the U.S., there’s no better place for startups than [pause] Silicon Valley…This is what I want to change.” Emcee Renay San Miguel said, “Somewhere in this room is the spark for the next technology renaissance.”

Glenn Kelman, CEO of Redfin, gave a masterful keynote talk on entrepreneurship, complete with inspirational photos. He showed a picture of Shane Battier, the determined, but not-so-talented pro basketball player, who inspired this piece of advice: “Remember every day, if you don’t love your job, you should quit.” This was followed by a slide of Madonna kissing Britney Spears and President Obama standing next to George W. Bush (“think about the person who’s going to come in and replace you,” Kelman said). And then there was a shot of perennial star-crossed Presidential candidate Alan Keyes (“if you do what you believe in and you still lose, you lose nothing and you can run again”). Kelman admitted it would still be a “long, hard fight” at his own startup. But he really conveyed the passion he has for the job, and the delight all entrepreneurs should take in trying to do something big and change the world. “My biggest fear about Redfin is not that it’ll fail or succeed, it’s that it’ll end,” he said.

With that, the awards show began. Picnik ended up sweeping best startup product designer (Peter Roman), best startup CEO (Jonathan Sposato), best bootstrapped startup, and best (overall) startup. John Cook and TechFlash won best startup blog (congrats to John and his team). Shannon Swift of Swift HR Solutions won best service provider. Josh Maher of Lunch 2.0 took home the prize (and they were impressive awards, physically) for best social event. Nat Brown of iLike won for best startup technologist. Geoff Entress won the award for best angel investor. And Matt McIlwain of Madrona Venture Group won for best venture capitalist (Greg Gottesman accepted on his behalf, because McIlwain was celebrating his wedding anniversary).

Dave Schappell of TeachStreet brought down the house with his presentation of the VC award. He deadpanned that he and Calbucci had decided the four nominees were equally good, but that he’d like “to see more market traction” from all of them, that he couldn’t give out an award but he’d try to help in any way he can, and the nominees could take a piece of chocolate on their way out.

All in all, it was a perfect event for the tech startup community. People I talked to said it was one of the best awards shows in their memory. We’re all looking forward to more like it.

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