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TechCrunch 50 Winner: FitBit is my Prediction

I spent the last few days at TechCrunch 50 and, while I won't be present at the 'award ceremony', I'd like to predict the winner... both of which are not traditional Web 2.0 companies. In fact, the highlights of the conference for me were around mobile and where innovation appears to be happening faster and more interestingly. There were great presentations and launches for .com sites (ie Hangout, VideoSurf) - but top to bottom, the mobile space was really impressive... and this will be a continuing trend as the mobile web becomes more efficient, more widespread and more usable thanks to new mediums and devices. FitBit, Swype, MyTopia and others were all standouts.

With that out of the way, my TechCrunch 50 winner was FitBit. Outstanding little device with amazing form factor: it can be worn anywhere and at any point (unlike the Nike Plus gadgets). It's also available at an unbeatable price point: $99. Better yet, it syncs wirelessly and has a full web interface to track your progress, health and friends. Awesome. This will be *the* holiday gift of 2008 (assuming it ships on time). It's also an important product for a serious issue: health.

My only critique: the website offers relatively little information about the product despite offering pre-orders.... I assume this is a consequence of remaining quiet until their TC50 launch. It's tough to ask for $99 without any meaty information. Also, this image is clearly photoshopped... badly:

TechCrunch 50: Wins First Session

Sorry for the brief blog posts but the wifi here at TechCrunch 50 is a mix of unstable and unavailable. The first session featured four companies and my ranks are as follows:

1. Hangout 2. 3. iThryv 4. was outstanding and the demonstration was perfectly put together. The ecommerce integration is slick and provides an immediate business model.

I thought Ashton Kutcher's Blah Girls had terrific content - but they will need to be updating the content on a very routine basis (tough to scale). Interesting opportunity for Blah Girls to become a mixture of Sugar Inc + YouTube + MTV-quality production.

Chad Hurley: blah girls has best opportunity for advertising model. content is scalable based on distribution. Clearly two learnings out of YouTube.

Marissa: Hangout. questioned all of the business models. iThryv doesnt seem realistic - doesn't seem practical as to how kids save and spend.

Conway: would most likely invest in Shrynk but not without a couple major deals signed (ie Wells Fargo, Intuit). Dilemma for other companies: for their users they have to get allocated time on existing social networks and reduce time spent elsewhere - currently well saturated in networking offers, mindshare, etc.

CNet: Hangout is innovative. Blah Girls needs more content than couple times a week.

Conway: product placement is the next multi-billion dollar advertising platform.