The Valley's rich kids go on a Hawaiian treasure hunt

Owen Thomas · 10/23/08 12:20AM

Oh, what fun! David Hornik, the feisty financier who organizes The Lobby, a conference which gathers a self-appointed Valley elite on the Big Island of Hawaii, organizes group expeditions as part of the boondoggle's bonding rituals. We hear he's hired Shinteki, an activities coordinator popular in the Valley, which has in turn created a fake "treasure-recovery services" outfit to lead Lobbyists on a treasure hunt. With venture capital growing scarce, why not just label the exercise "Find Your Own Series A"? After the jump, a spoiler on the treasure hunt for anyone who wants to play along.Check the "treasures" listed on Heritage International's site. They spell out "Google Earth." What happens when you play with the GPS coordinates listed?

The Lobby opens, economy be damned

Owen Thomas · 10/23/08 12:00AM

Who is this joker? Why, it's venture capitalist David Hornik, the pocket-sized B-lister who has invited some of Silicon Valley's shallowest thinkers for a company-paid vacation. The three-day, mostly agenda-free funconference has opened tonight on Hawaii's Big Island, with attendees Twittering about drinking mai tais and dancing the hula. What, work?Why, that's for employees, not founders. The employees that Lobby-goers didn't lay off before boarding a jet to jaunt across the Pacific, that is. We hear some of this year's attendees, concerned with the appearance of attending such an ostentatious waste of time and money, tried to cancel. Hornik told them there would be no refunds. You know times are tough when a VC is being this tight about $3,000.

A venture capitalist's ego trip

Owen Thomas · 10/20/08 03:20PM

Click to viewMost venture capitalists I know are deeply insecure. Why? Because they're not entrepreneurs. Yes, it's true: The Valley's moneymen have a founder fetish. And the worst of the lot are the former lawyers, who never did anything even remotely resembling building a company, but retain the lawerly suspicion that they're smarter than their companies. I mention this because I've stumbled across August Capital partner David Hornik's intro video from The Lobby, his invite-only Hawaiian vacation masquerading as a conference.In the video, which he posted publicly to his personal blog, Hornik puts on a series of baseball caps — he wears many hats, yageddit? — from his portfolio of startups. A song plays: "You're my superhero, my knight in shining armor." Venture capitalist to the rescue! Hornik's wife and kids also appear. He's a family man! At first, I wondered if Hornik had actually made Lobby attendees sit down and watch this video en masse. Not so, I'm told; instead, it was preloaded on the free iPods everyone at The Lobby received, along with other self-introduction videos. The Lobby's schtick is that it has no formal schedule of presentations; instead of sitting in a room ignoring the video while Twittering, attendees can simply ignore the program outright, as it sits unviewed on an iPod's hard drive. I don't know what's worse: the image of Hornik inflicting his egofest on a captive audience, or the pathetic vision of him wandering around his own conference, wondering how many actually bothered to watch it. And that's why Hornik's a funder, not a founder. He has enough ego to make this video — but not enough ego to force it on people. He lacks the chutzpah an entrepreneur needs — and I suspect he knows it.

Who's shameless enough to go to The Lobby this year?

Owen Thomas · 10/17/08 02:00PM

Silicon Valley venture capitalist David Hornik's invite-only dealmaking conference, The Lobby, takes place again next week at a plush resort in Waikoloa Village on the Big Island of Hawaii. Camp Cyprus was nothing compared to this funeral pyre of cash. Who cares that twentysomethings spent their own money to vacation with friends, and filmed an over-the-top video of their frolics? Hornik's hoedown is the ultimate marker of what-me-worry excess in an age of recession. And Valleywag has the complete list of who's going.Here's what should enrage you as you read it: Unlike the Cyprus trip, this one is ostensibly a work event, paid for by investors and shareholders. (I suppose a handful of entrepreneurs may have bought their own tickets, but in the hopes of paying themselves back by scoring an investment.) What's the agenda for this passel of languorous corporate dealmakers, ebullient entrepreneurs, and phlegmatic venture capitalists? They party. You pay. Later on, they consummate some deals with their pals that they would have struck anyway, crediting the boondoggle junket for "making the connection." Last year's event was an epic caper, marked by drink-throwing, late-night excursions, and salacious rumors of barside canoodling. Here's whose exploits we're looking forward to reporting, thanks to the moles we've placed throughout Hornik's guest list:

Photos from Sarah Lacy's book party

Photos by Randal Alan Smith · 05/16/08 03:00PM

Web 2.0 was hot last night. And I mean the kind of heat determined not by Technorati rank, but by the thermometer. Despite the stifling weather, San Francisco's Web stars turned out for a party Sarah Lacy threw for her new book, Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good at Otis off Union Square. The hole-in-the-wall, two-story bar couldn't handle the crowd, which spilled out on Maiden Lane. Slide CEO Max Levchin, the star of the book, stopped by with fiancé Nellie Minkova to congratulate Lacy, and then immediately left. Runner-up Jay Adelson, whom Levchin beat on page count, stayed longer, as did Twitter's Ev Williams, who came with his wife, Sara Morishige. Also in the crowd: August Capital VC David Hornik, who didn't even rate a mention in the index, despite inviting Lacy to his exclusive Lobby conference. A gallery of photos, after the jump:

Secrets of the worst websites — revealed!

Owen Thomas · 03/08/08 11:30PM

Andy Baio created Upcoming.org, a plausibly good group-calendar site he sold to Yahoo. Shirt-doffing VC David Hornik of August Capital has funded some plausibly good companies like Six Apart and Splunk. The two served as judges for "Worst Website Ever," a gag panel at SXSW where entrepreneurs gave their all to the worst startup pitches they could come up with. The ideas were funny enough — Sickr, Image Search for the Blind, My Happy Netbox, and the like. (See the photo gallery, after the jump.) But there was something sour about the whole business.

Venture capitalist disrobes in front of titillated SXSW audience

Owen Thomas · 03/08/08 10:45PM

David Hornik is a secretive sort; the venture capitalist tried (and failed) to keep his invite-only Lobby conference off the record. Even when he wants to expose himself, he stays guarded. At a SXSW panel where he judged the best of the worst website pitches, Hornik changed from a gold-hued paisley shirt to the VC's blue button-down uniform. Next time, David, skip the white T-shirt. That seems braver. The frame-by-frame strip tease:

Geeks on fire! Flames close The Lobby

Owen Thomas · 10/28/07 05:46PM

Southern California's not the only area ablaze. Fires have broken out on the Big Island of Hawaii, near the Fairmont Orchid, and the hotel has evacuated its guests. And those guests include many attendees of VC David Hornik's exclusive funconference, The Lobby, who had extended their stay through the weekend. Such a bummer when your poolside-getaway boondoggle gets cut short by Mother Nature, isn't it?

A week that calls for a chaser

Owen Thomas · 10/26/07 08:08PM

Would someone please shut down the Valley and lock the doors? I don't know if I can take another week like this. Seriously, can you remember another week filled with such drama? Microsoft showers Facebook with cash, making Mark Zuckerberg a paper billionaire — and turning Facebooker Dave Morin's relationship with a Googler into forbidden fruit. Meanwhile, venture capitalist David Hornik attempts to have an off-the-record conference in Hawaii and completely fails — because gossip will out. Gossip like BusinessWeek's Sarah Lacy throwing a drink at TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington, while his CEO, Heather Harde, stays up suspiciously late with WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg. Yahoo loses a devoted cheerleader and its top marketer. Larry Ellison tries to reel in BEA. Special correspondent Nick Douglas, meanwhile, demands I stop reading all of my favorite sites. I need something. Not a unicorn chaser. How about ....

Yahoos and hacks clutter The Lobby

Megan McCarthy · 10/25/07 06:24PM

Really, we're confounded. David Hornik's Lobby conference is ostensibly an invite-only affair. But some of the attendees had us scratching our head. Spotted, Yahoo's Bradley Horowitz, Brad Garlinghouse and Kiersten Hollars enjoying some sun instead of participating in Jerry Yang's 100-day turnaround of the company. Then there's Jessica Livingston and Paul Graham from Y Combinator. There's nary a 22-year-old wantrepreneur in sight, so what's the draw of this conference for them? Other inexplicables: Kara Swisher from AllThingsD, and TechCrunch heavyweight Michael Arrington, two notoriously gossipy hacks. Wasn't this event supposed to be off the record? And does Arrington even know what that means? (Photo by bradley23)

The moneymen at The Lobby

Megan McCarthy · 10/25/07 05:33PM

The venture capitalists spotted at this week's Lobby conference in Hawaii are not, we've noted, the Sand Hill Road dwellers who inflated bubbles past or present. No sign of anyone from Sequoia or Kleiner Perkins. So who is enjoying the tropical sun? Well, conference host and August Capital partner David Hornik, of course. Also photographed on the scene: Greylock's David Sze, SoftTech's Jeff Clavier, Foundation Capital's Mike Brown, Panorama Capital's Mike Jung, and Bay Partner's Eric Chin. Hats off to First Round Capital's Josh Kopelman, who is using his entrepreneurial skills to cash in during the scavenger hunt. (Photo by: bradley23)

Geeks, jocks clash in Hawaii

Owen Thomas · 10/25/07 04:19PM

Valleywag has a secret informant on the Big Island of Hawaii, where venture capitalist David Hornik is throwing his no-agenda, all-schmoozing conference The Lobby. Our spy, whom we've dubbed "The Lobbyist," reports that the hotel where it's being held is also hosting a meeting of the California State Athletic Association. That means, of course, that Hornik's hand-chosen geek squad is looking even more pasty and out of shape next to the hot, young sporty set. (One wonders if Digg founder Kevin Rose's new haircut is getting him some play with the female athletes, or if he's staying faithful to longtime love Sarah Lane, who's with him in Hawaii.) Today, attendees are on a scavenger hunt. The contestants, inexplicably, are wearing long pants, despite the 90-degree weather. But we're sure that the site of their legs would be blinding. Central Station Alarm Association, which makes this whole item far less funny. (Photo by bradley23)

Kevin Rose Hawaii haircut crisis!

Owen Thomas · 10/25/07 11:47AM

Everyone's heard of Kevin Rose, the genial, constantly drinking founder of Digg and host of the Diggnation webcast. And everyone's used to his sleepy-eyed, mopheaded good looks. Well, forget the mophead. From this Valleywag spy photo pic we spotted on Yahoo executive Bradley Horowitz's Flickr stream, Rose got a buzz cut before flying to Hawaii for VC David Hornik's exclusive Lobby conference. Does this have something to do with that Captain America comic? How will his online-video fans react? Will his Diggnation numbers plummet? And will women continue to ask him to sign their breasts? (Photo by bradley23)

Who's heading to The Lobby?

Megan McCarthy · 10/24/07 04:19PM

If you notice a dearth of cashed-out entrepreneurs and rolling-in-it venture capitalists around town this week, you're not hallucinating. Today kicks off August Capital VC David Hornik's conference The Lobby, located on Hawaii's sunny Big Island. The conference is, ostensibly, "off the record," but we think some tidbits will manage to get out. We hear that the nonstop out of SFO this morning was filled with conference-goers. (This video of SoftTech VC Jeff Clavier and Dogster founder Ted Rheingold before takeoff makes the eerie observation that, if the jet goes down, so does Web 2.0.) Hear anything interesting coming from the Big Island? Let us know.