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."
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.
CARLSBAD, CA — One of the best things about AllThingsD.com is John Paczkowski, the site's sardonic tech blogger, whom Kara Swisher cleverly poached from the San Jose Mercury News's Good Morning Silicon Valley blog. At the D6 conference, there has been no sign of John Paczkowski — only an overly sincere reporter impersonating him. There is no speaker the normally acidic Paczkowski can't find something nice to say about. Who is this guy, and what has he done with the real John?
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 — 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.
CARLSBAD, CA — D, the Wall Street Journal schmoozefest which opened today with a round of golf at the Four Seasons Aviara Resort, is not the conference for the rest of us. It attracts a host of tech and media CEOs who agree to be harangued onstage by Walt Mossberg, the sexagenarian of sexy gadgets, and Kara Swisher, the diminutive media commentaterrorist of AllThingsD.com. In exchange, they get to seem classy and witty, if only by comparison. It is the sort of elite event to which Valleywag is not invited. We showed up anyway.
This decade's greatest Internet hits — Google and PayPal — make so much money because they help money change hands more efficiently. The next great wave of moneymakers on the Web won't be nearly so utilitarian, Keith Rabois, VP at widgetmaker Slide, argues in a guest post to AllThingsD. Rabois says the Web's next mint will be made on fun — a very underrated commodity, he says. To demonstrate his point, he harkens back to the week of April 21 and the electoral contest that captured all of America's attention. Not the Pennsylvania Democratic primary, Rabois writes. "I'm talking about American Idol." Then he lays down some convincing numbers:
Really, I wasn't trying to be posh for the book party Arianna Huffington threw Saturday for Oxford scholar Jonathan Zittrain and his new book, The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It." I pulled up to Larry Ellison's Pacific Heights manse in a black Town Car because that's the only vehicle I was able to flag down in North Beach. Huffington, the pundit turned blog mogul, greeted me at the door and extracted a promise of my best behavior before allowing me in. (One wonders what these people think my worst behavior might be, and if they realize how tempting living down to their expectations is.)
Stanlee Gatti, the former San Francisco arts commissioner, produced the event, which drew a crowd mixed with the Valley elite, San Francisco politicos, a gaggle of YouTubers, and oddball geek pals of Zittrain. Oh, and some grubby hacks like yours truly. Melanie Ellison, the romance novelist and wife of Oracle CEO Larry, went to high school with Zittrain, it turns out. That's the kind of it's-a-small-world connection the local press corps loves to make a big deal about. But even if Zittrain didn't have this chance connection to the Valley's movers and shakers, I'd think he'd be drawing attention from its inner circle anyway.
Here's the highlight from Kara Swisher's a tour of the Hulu offices. Hulu CEO Kilar takes Swisher into a group of cubicles reserved for developers. Hulu, Kilar says, was developed "between here and Beijing." Then Kilar walks over to a desk where what seems to be a child sits. "I want to introduce you to a little-known secret," Kilar says. How cute, Kilar wants to introduce Swisher to his kid. "Eden, take your earpieces out," Kilar tells the boy, before pulling them out of the boy's ears himself. The kid turns around and Kilar begins to explain that ""This guy coded—" but Swisher interrupts. "Oh, hello 12 year old, hello." Kilar: "He's legal. Over 21." The kid: "Barely."
Head TechCruncher Michael Arrington noted three separate times on Twitter today that TechCrunch had "broken" the AOL buys Bebo news last month. Then he zings BoomTown's Kara Swisher, who'd dismissed the rumors earlier: "hmm didn't someone say Bebo wasn't for sale? http://tinyurl.com/2t5mch" That's great, Michael, but don't break your arm patting yourself on the back. You might need it to write more Twitters. It's also worth noting that Eric Eldon at VentureBeat broke the Bebo story months before Arrington's "exclusive" when he reported that Bebo had hired a bank. See Arrington's entire Twitterpated output below:
Click to viewOver the weekend, first Digg CEO Jay Adelson and then, more believably, BoomTown's Kara Swisher debunked the rumors that Google and Microsoft are in a bidding war to buy Digg. But nobody believes Digg isn't actually for sale. So Gawker Media conceptual artist Richard Blakeley decided to illustrate the typical Digg power user for potential buyers. 13 signs you may be a Digg power user, below:
Bebo had found potential buyers in Microsoft and Yahoo, sources told BoomTown's Kara Swisher, not Google or News Corp. as TechCrunch reported. These facts were "easy to find out about by anyone who can pick up a phone and ask around like a reporter is supposed to," WSJ vet Swisher writes on her blog. Then she goes on to slam Michael Arrington's TechCrunch some more.
Scoops are important to journalists. But do readers care? Some writers persist in thinking so. I can't remember ever seeing such backbiting over a humdrum funding announcement: Kara Swisher of AllThingsD scooped everyone last Friday with a rumor that Slide, Max Levchin's Web widget maker, was raising a big funding round. Sarah Lacy of BusinessWeek had more details of the $50 million round in an already-written column published to the Web after Swisher's post. Brad Stone of the New York Times weighed in that afternoon. And that's when the knives came out.
A fictional character on The L Word, Megan Swisher, was named after power-lesbian couple Kara Swisher, the AllThingsD blogger, and Megan Smith, a vice president at Google, Mombian readers note. Not mentioned: That Swisher serves on the board of OurChart.com, a lesbian social network tied to the show, a fact she prominently discloses. [Mombian]
The trick to running a gossip blog is to reject most of the rumors you get. Otherwise, no one believes anything. You quickly learn to spot the gullible chatter, the obvious attempts to plant a story, the too good to be true. Well, usually. We blew it big three times this year by trying too hard for the scoops.
So it's past midnight at the Valleywag holiday party when I answer the door. "Owen's totally wrong about that Facebook thing," blurts out Kara Swisher, whom I hardly know, in the conversational space most people would waste with a vacuous Hello it's good to see you can I come in. "What's with Loudmouth Gay Guy," she adds, nodding toward a tipsy guest. "Handle it, will ya?" I used to wonder why Owen had such an obvious thing for Kara, but I get it now: Kara Swisher is the ruthless-yet-right reporter we wish we could be, but can't. Back to book reviews for me. (Photo of Swisher not impressed with the animatronic reindeer by ... oh wait, I took this one.)
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)