Officially, the New York Times Company isn't commenting on tech executive Jason Calacanis' claim that it is shopping reference site About.com in an effort to shore up its financial position and perhaps go private. But two anonymous sources poured cold water on his statements, according to Peter Kafka of All Things Digital, denying that the profitable property is on the block. Perhaps a rogue banker is trying to drum up interest in a (hypothetical) deal before taking it to the Times, hoping to score some business. Or maybe Calacanis just got his wires crossed. But lack of any dealmaking will hardly tamp down speculation over how the Times Company will pay down its junk-rated debt. If anything, it makes the situation an even more tricky puzzle.
Oh, fine. Your supportive emails dragged me back onto the Internet — tempting as Leah Culver and iJustine's offer to link arms and walk off the Internet with me into the sunset was. Someone reminded me that my contract specifies I'm bound to write for one hundred years or until my first gray hair, whichever comes sooner. So back to whoring.
D6 is all but done for, and the moguls are ready to retreat from the Four Seasons Aviara Resort. But why fly home alone? Their planes are parked at Palomar. And the Wall Street Journal conference attracts real money, not just fickle Valley money. Here are the three ways they'd play it to pick up a lady friend, right in the lobby. Don't try this, startup types — you don't have the pull.
CARLSBAD, CA — In her bid to rob her new boss of all remaining dignity, conference organizer Kara Swisher has arranged to have gene-analysis startup 23andMe map aging media mogul Rupert Murdoch's chromosomes at the D6 conference, AllThingsD's John Paczkowski tells us. Come on. At 77, does he have any left? Leave the man's DNA alone, you mean lesbian! Swisher's DNA is also being tested, as is that of Googlers Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, and Sergey Brin. Brin's wife, Anne Wojcicki, is a cofounder of 23andMe; Brin provided the company a loan to get it off the ground. In a real-world DNA experiment, Wojcicki is expecting the couple's first child.
Facebook applications don't really do anything special yet. Neither, for that matter, do Facebook's ads. But that's OK, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg insisted yesterday at the D6 conference. Some of the applications, like Slide's SuperPoke, are really popular. Just like Elvis, she says.The comparison fails on two counts.
Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer played golf over the weekend, but neither were able to put the ball in the cup, so to speak. The way Yang put it in his answers to Walt Mossberg's questions at the D6 conference yesterday, a merger between the companies now seems as unlikely as it did the day Ballmer first walked away from negotiating table. "Microsoft is no longer interested in buying the company," Yang said. This news will not please Yahoo shareholders Carl Icahn and his allies, who control at least 29 percent of the company, favor a merger, and have started a proxy fight for control of the company's board. In the above clip, watch how Yang intends to deliver the bad news and fight for his job.
CARLSBAD, CA — The other night, Gizmodo editor Brian Lam and I were talking about what he'd learned about Bill Gates's brain. Our conclusion: Like an overstuffed hard drive, he needs defragging — the utility that rebuilds a drive bit by bit to put it in proper working order. Buried in software wizardry, Gates has lost touch with what people want to do with technology. But why pick on Gates? None of the speakers at the D6 conference, held in this Southern California seaside town, have shown they have much in the way of ideas.
CARLSBAD, CA — Mark Zuckerberg has learned nothing. Taking the stage at D6, he uttered nothing but bromides and nonsequiturs. Examples: "Facebook is a technology company ... a technology company is a company that creates technology"; "Religion, that's a big thing around the world". At his South By Southwest keynote, Zuckerberg benefitted from a crowd obsessed with the friendliness of Sarah Lacy's questions. With Kara Swisher, never a kind locutor, Zuckerberg had the spotlight shone on him, and he came off simply blank. Which is why he hired Sheryl Sandberg from Google, right?
CARLSBAD, CA, BUT NOT AT THE FOUR SEASONS AVIARA RESORT — Was it something I wrote? I can't claim to have been minding my own business at D6, the Wall Street Journal's hoi-polloi-need-not-apply tech conference. After all, my business is to mind everyone else's. But I can't think what exactly I did was that outrageous enough to prompt Ryan Carter, head of security for the Four Seasons Aviara Resort, to ask me to leave the property altogether. (One of Carter's underlings had previously asked me not to venture into the conference itself, a request I respected.) No matter. Eight-D6-ed, unseasonably ushered out, I shall blog on. A bonus of the trip back to my hotel: I had the cabbie detour past the Palomar Airport, where rows of private jets were lined up. Photos of mogul transportation, after the jump:
CARLSBAD, CA — On stage at D6, Sue Decker couldn't offer any explanation why she was qualified to be president of Yahoo. But if you ask Valleywag, she's doing a bang-up job of pursuing Yahoo's strategy of embracing openness. For example, by holding a meeting within camera-lens length of Valleywag in the Four Seasons Lobby Lounge. Our eye was first drawn by Yahoo Media Group chief Scott Moore's blindingly colorful Madras shirt; we then saw he was sitting with Decker. Two of the other participants: Gordon McLeod and Matthew Goldberg, business-side executives at Dow Jones, which means they were likely discussing some kind of news-content partnership between Yahoo and the Wall Street Journal. I'd thought I spooted Brad Garlinghouse, the Yahoo executive who wrote the famous "Peanut Butter Memo," in the group, but I'm told he wasn't there. I later spotted him strolling down the halls with Yahoo board member Bobby Kotick, the CEO of Activision. More pictures of the meeting:
CARLSBAD, CA — For most of their D conference interviews, Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg trade off interview duties. But why was Mossberg the one to do the D6 interview with Yahoo CEO Jerry Yang and president Sue Decker? Swisher frequently covers Yahoo in her AllThingsD.com blog; I can't think of the last time Mossberg has typed the letters "y-a-h-o-o" in his gadget reviews. Here's my theory: Decker and Yang agreed to speak at D6, but only if Mossberg was the interviewer, not Swisher. Then Swisher tweaked them by asking a question — not on stage, but on video. If so, serves Yang and Decker right for not nailing down all the conditions. Think they'll be having words with Yahoo flack Jill Nash afterwards? (Photo by Asa Mathat/AllThingsD.com)
CARLSBAD, CA — D6 conference organizer Kara Swisher and bicoastal überflack Brooke Hammerling prepare to torment former Facebook COO Van Natta, who doesn't seem to mind. Can you suggest a better caption? Do so in the comments, but behave yourselves and be clever, or I'll ban all you filthy louts. The best one will become the new headline. Yesterday's winner: Jimmy the Saint, for "Sometimes that new iPhone is just a cigar."