Following a day-long session with the finalists at Amazon Headquarters, we adjourned to the W Hotel for the next phase. The 13 representatives from the 7 finalists participated in a series of "lightning round" sessions with venture capitalists from all over the country.
We (the judges) combined our own rankings with those from the online voting form and the venture capitalists and we had out winner. After a sit-down dinner (punctuated with large-screen showings of the videos of each finalist), Amazon Senior Vice President Andy Jassy took the stage and announced that Ooyala had won the competition. We were all impressed by their management team and with their Backlot product. Here are the happy winners (Sean, Belsasar, and Bismarck):
After Andy made the announcement he presented them with a special coveted and highly sought after"golden hammer" signed by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. He invited them to "take a hammer that server right there" (after donning safety glasses, of course). The resulting video is quite entertaining:
There are more pictures on All Things Distributed (Amazon CTO Werner Vogels' blog).
The local press was out in force. John Cook of the Seattle Times wrote about Pitching VCs for cash at Amazon's challenge and noted that more than 900 companies entered the challenge. Brier Dudley noted that Sean of Ooyala is from Gig Harbor.
Seattle entrepreneur and blogger Marcelo Calbucci blogged about the event and and predicted that "A few of those will become CEO/CTO of Fortune 500 companies and all built on top of Amazon Web Services." Marcello also publishes the Seattle Startup Index.
Congratulations to the winners, and our thanks to all those who participated.
PS - I am sure that the first comment will be "When are you doing this again?" I don't know!