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Hanging with the Valley Rat Pack

Posted by: Spencer Ante on March 10, 2008

After Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote speech, I headed over to the Flickr and Fire Eagle party at the Iron Cactus on Austin’s main drag. (More on Fire Eagle later.) My colleague Catherine Holahan and I grabbed some tasty Tex-Mex and tequila.

Then guess who walked into the room? Silicon Valley’s own Rat Pack: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Digg founder Kevin Rose, StumbleUpon cofounder Garrett Camp and WineLibrary founder Gary Vaynerchuck.

Since Catherine met Zuckerberg the night before, he invited us over to his table where the Rat Pack was drinking the local brews Lone Star and Shiner Bock.

I asked Zuckerberg how he thought his keynote speech went. He didn’t seem too bothered by it. Then again, he wasn’t the one getting flamed in the blogosphere. “Sarah Lacy should have asked you tougher questions,” said one of Facebook’s top designers who was hanging with Zuckerberg and his posse. (Lacy took a lot of heat, perhaps a bit unfairly, from a developer-heavy crowd that wanted fewer strategy questions and more tech heavy talk.)

I told Zuckerberg that I was impressed that during the Keynote presentation he admitted Facebook had made some mistakes in its short but highflying tenure. If you’re not making mistakes as a company, you’re probably not thinking boldy enough. The key is to learn from those mistakes and quickly move on.

But that was enough business talk. Everyone wanted to unwind and sample more of the local scene.

A bunch of folks noticed Zuckerberg and began popping by to say hello, including former Yahoo! Brickhouse head Salim Ismail. After Microsoft dropped its hostile offer on Yahoo! Salim said he took a buyout offer from the company.

I asked him if a lot of other smart people were bailing on Yahoo! now that Microsoft had Yahoo! in its vice grips. “Oh yeah,” he said. Fire Eagle, a Web service that allows people to share location information, was the last project to spin out of Brickhouse before Salim left. Now, he’s working on a few startup ideas.

After a few hours, we blew out of the Iron Cactus and headed down the street to the Shakespeare bar. The entourage expanded. A few folks from Pownce dropped by and then Robert Scoble ambled in. Scoble, who reinvented himself as a blogger after serving as a tech evangelist at Microsoft, proposed to interview Zuckerberg at SXSW. Score one for the geeks.

Reader Comments

Michael Trice

March 10, 2008 10:34 PM

Sarah Lacy took heat for a poor interview style unsuited to a public forum. Hell, I'm a writer and I cringed at what happened due to her own inability to adapt to the obvious flaws in her plan. It's a tough crowd that has few sacred cows.

Her youtube interview ( shows that she arrogantly expected to be treated with respect based on nothing more than position. Frankly, a businessweek writer can't expect that when the conference also has such figures as Dr. Henry Jenkins, Michael Eisner, and other individuals who not only have earned their respect but care enough to keep that respect and earn it ever day.

People like Lacy who can't accept fault for a bad performance make you worry about the future of the fourth estate. Maybe these developers have a point in their seemingly anarchic viewpoints.


March 11, 2008 12:41 PM

I love Gary Vaynerchuk!
Can't believe he didn't bring some wine though. What's he been up to? I read somewhere he has a book coming out soon.

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Bloomberg Businessweek writers Peter Burrows, Cliff Edwards, Olga Kharif, Aaron Ricadela, and Douglas MacMillan, dig behind the headlines to analyze what’s really happening throughout the world of technology. Tech Beat covers everything from tech bellwethers like Apple, Google, and Intel and emerging new leaders such as Facebook to new technologies, trends, and controversies.



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