Webbys Honor Best of Net

Denizens of the Internet turned out in high style on San Francisco’s Nob Hill Thursday night for the “Webby Awards 2000,” a funny and fast ceremony — thanks to the five-words-or-less speech limit — honoring the best Web sites of the year.

The Webby Awards are the antithesis of the frayed jeans and T-shirt inhabited world of the Web. Some 3,000 “digital dignitaries” showed up in their snazziest attire to see who won what in the Internet’s version of the Oscars.

The Webby awards are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences, whose membership includes David Bowie, Francis Ford Coppola, Julia Child, Robin Williams, Esther Dyson, Matt Groening, Parker Posey, and Deepak Chopra.

While a panel of judges selected the Webby Award winners, the “People’s Voice” awards went to the favorites of nearly 135,000 Net surfers who voted online. Webby organizers say that they received submissions from 27 countries.

Giants and Babies

Amazon.com was the people’s choice for best retail site on the Web, but it was the relatively unknown BabyCenter that took home top honors from the judges.

eToys bought BabyCenter for over $150 million (US$) in stock last July, just prior to its public offering. BabyCenter was launched in October 1998 and received funding from Intel and a variety of venture capital firms.

The site sells thousands of maternity and baby products and also offers content and community chat features.

Honor for Napster

While the People’s Voice and the official Webby judges named different winners in most categories, both agreed that the embattled music download site Napster deserved the award for best music site. Napster and other music sites have been under fire in recent weeks for alleged copyright infringements.

Search engine Google also took an across-the-board sweep with its win in the “technical achievement” category.

Other Webby winners included British fashion designer Paul Smith for best fashion site, Gomez for best finance site, Epicurious for best living site and ThriveOnline for best health site.

People’s Voice Award recipients included Todd Oldham for best fashion site, PayPal for best finance site, Blue Mountain Arts for best living site and InteliHealth for best health site.

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