With Silicon Alley Insider suggesting that Mahalo founder Jason Calacanis has a gambling problem, I figured it was time to take the intervention up a notch. Calacanis has endorsed workaholism in the past, leading me to believe that he doesn't take what psychologists have termed "process addiction" particularly seriously. So I sent him the standard twenty questions from Gamblers Anonymous. He was incredulous. "R u asking me to respond to these for a valleywag post?!?" [sic] I suggested he tally up the responses and send that instead — after all, what does he have to worry about? GA suggests seven or more "yes" answers is indicative of a gambling problem. And betting a company's future on raising a venture capital round or angling for a higher valuation ahead of a sale counts.
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.
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."
CARLSBAD, CA — Here's Microsoft dealmaker Hank Vigil chatting up AOL COO Ron Grant over lunch at the D6 conference. Why is that interesting? Because we overheard Vigil gabbing away on his cell phone earlier today about the "economic terms" of some deal. Microsoft famously made a run at merging its online businesses with Time Warner's AOL a few years ago. As with its recent talks with Yahoo, Microsoft only succeeded at driving its target into Google's arms; Google has a search deal with AOL, and owns 5 percent of the company. Could AOL be an option once more for Microsoft? Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes is set to take the stage soon. While he's not likely to say anything about talks, it's a safe bet Vigil and Grant will be seeing more of each other.
Attempting to edit down Kara Swisher's epic two-part behind-the-scenes opus on the making of D6 into something more manageable, it was hard not to note a certain passive aggression. The deadpan delivery of criticisms quickly couched as attempts at humor, the needling of uncomfortable minions with the constant gaze of her camera and, above all, more than a little envy when it comes to the status her colleague at the Wall Street Journal Walt Mossberg enjoys. At one point, she even asks a staffer who grants access to the conference, "Are you dangling hope and then snatching it away, which was our instruction?" Yes, yes they are.
In this clip, excerpted from Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher's interview with Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer at the All Things D conference down in Carlsbad, Ballmer explains how Gates hired him during his first year at Stanford business school. Ballmer says Gates called him up and lamented the fact that he "didn't have a twin" he could hire to work at Microsoft. The best part of the tale? Ballmer's voice impersonation of Gates on phone — all squeaky and high-pitched — with his Gatesness sitting right there.
CARLSBAD, CA — A rumor sweeping the press corps here at the D6 conference: TechCrunch's Michael Arrington was set to stream Bill Gates's presentation live, but organizer Kara Swisher, who wanted to keep video restricted to her AllThingsD.com website, put the kibosh on it. Arrington abandoned the effort, but cited "bandwidth issues," not Swisher's strongarming, as the reason. Update: In the comments, Swisher denies she personally asked Arrington to stop streaming and says it's "the first she's heard of this." But, as commenter Mr. E. notes, Arrington associate Loic Le Meur confirms via Twitter that a man who "wasn't nice" asked Arrington to stop recording. In a subsequent email, Swisher says Arrington should have known better:
CARLSBAD, CA — What's this on my table at the Four Seasons Aviara's Lobby Lounge? Why, it's a copy of the program for D6! How careless for someone to have left it out in a public space, where anyone might read it. And there's even an attendee list! I won't bore you with the name of everyone who's going, but here are some names that caught my eye:
CARLSBAD, CA — I wasn't just eighty-sixed, folks. No, I was eight-D6'd. There I was, charming my way through the crowd at the Wall Street Journal's D6 conference — why hello, Sir Howard Stringer of Sony! Oh, was that Steve Case? — when a woman announced herself as "in-house security" and informed me that "the client" had asked that I be shown the door. "The client" being Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, the conference organizers, and "the door" actually just the way to the hotel bar, where I'm having a lovely fruity beverage. And Swisher and Mossberg were too late with the bum rush. I'd already been working my camera for hours. While Bill Gates bores attendees with a preview of Windows Seven, Microsoft's latest attempt to annoy the majority of computer users, you can enjoy the snapshots I took. Among the nerdspotting: Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and Max Levchin of Slide.
Sexygenarian gadget reviewer Walt Mossberg and feisty gossipmonger Kara Swisher, the disgrumptive pair behind the Wall Street Journal's D conference and AllThingsD.com website. Can you suggest a better caption? Do so in the comments, and the winner will become this post's new headline. Yesterday's winner: digital2 for "Google: Organizing the world's crap." (Photo by Asa Mathat/AllThingsD.com)
CARLSBAD, CA — Next month, Bill Gates is retiring from his day job at Microsoft. That means his appearance tonight at the D6 conference is his last hurrah. To go out with a bang, he is debuting Windows Seven, John Paczkowski reports on the conference's AllThingsD website. Details are scant, but we've heard Microsoft was rushing out Seven to make up for the failures of Vista. Gates, Paczkowski writes, will demonstrate an "all new user interface." Which speaks to Microsoft's problems. Users are not demanding new interfaces; corporations are uninterested in retraining their staffs, and consumers are unmotivated to learn the quirks of a new operating system. Gates would have been better served by simply improving the operating system's reliability and performance — but that does not make for an interesting show.