Last night, I cheated my way into a book party for California-based writer and web publisher Arianna Huffington at the San Francisco guest house of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and romance novelist Melanie Craft Ellison. First lesson: Don't go to a society event dressed for a Silicon Valley geek party. Second lesson: F. Scott Fitzgerald was right, the rich are not like you and me.
I found Six Apart VP Anil Dash, dressed in a sweater. He welcomed me to the "kid's table" (I was in a jacket and a t-shirt reading "You Were Plan B") and we plowed through a crowd of suits and dresses that cost more than we do. Here's what I learned about some of Valleywag's favorite targets.
- Larry Ellison, Oracle CEO: Class act with a strong handshake. Looks damn good for 62 — Chuck Norris meets Dave Zimmer from Men's Warehouse. Gave SF Chronicle writer Dan Fost some commentary on the HP leak scandal; said he'll remodel the house again soon to make it feel more welcoming.
- Larry Page, Google co-founder: Dressed in a slick suit, rocking the urban mullet (seriously, he looks good in it. Very Hollywood). Recognized me when his girlfriend, Stanford grad student Lucy Southworth (also looking Hollywood), smirked and said "I know that face." Larry just stood there, hands in pockets. Awkward moment. Thankfully, a friend of theirs relieved the tension by yelling at me about my blog. As she spoke, Larry and Lucy slipped away. Lame. Larry's co-founder Sergey would have been a real man and punched me in the face. Still, it's flattering (though scary) that they've heard of me.
- Marissa Mayer, Google VP: Surrounded by college-age-looking kids. Stanford students? Cub reporters? When one gentleman tried to introduce me to her, she giggled (oh dear lord that giggle) and ran away. Must have been late for one of her famous fourteen-hour e-mail sessions.
- Kara Swisher, prominent Wall Street Journal writer: Threatened to physically beat me up. Afraid she was almost serious.
- Scott McNealy, Sun Microsystems founder, chairman, and ex-CEO: Didn't meet him, but saw him in just a white button-down (I hear that's all he ever wears). His successor Jon Schwartz wasn't present.
- Gavin Newsom, San Francisco mayor: Never heard of Gawker, thank God. Hair slicked back in its usual shape; I'm convinced he's actually a droid like Joe the Gigolo in "A.I."
- Melanie Craft Ellison, romance novelist: Not in tech, but married Larry Ellison. Charming, witty, and self-effacing. By far the best person to meet at this event. She's now writing a young adult fantasy novel and would like to hear about fantasy books with strong female leads. Any suggestions?