That was fast. Not only has BoomTown confirmed our earlier report that Elliot Schrage, Google's top flack, had interviewed at Facebook; he's been hired, too, according to an internal memo sent by CEO Mark Zuckerberg from India. Which is odd: At a meeting earlier today, asked about the Valleywag item on Schrage, COO Sheryl Sandberg feigned ignorance about Schrage's interviewing for the job, but talked up what a great fit he'd be with her, given their shared Harvard, D.C., and Google backgrounds. First Sandberg threatens to shoot Valleywag, and now she's agreeing with us? At least one member of the Google PR team concurs with Sandberg on this much: Better that he go to Facebook than stay at Google.
Are Elliot Schrage and Sheryl Sandberg about to stage a policy-wonk reunion in Palo Alto? When she worked at Google, Sandberg, now Facebook's COO, helped recruit Schrage from the Council on Foreign Relations. Having taken charge of Facebook PR, Sandberg is looking to hire a VP of communications with experience in public policy. Since most Valley flacks are weak in knowing the ways of D.C., that job description is tailor-made for Schrage. Sources tell us he has already interviewed at Facebook. And we hear he's more than ready to leave Google, chiefly because of its philanderrific CEO, Eric Schmidt.
I agree with the popular take on Sarah Lacy's Zuckerberg interview at SXSW to this degree: The audience was revolting. Lacy threw an unbecomingly petulant tantrum on stage. But the Twitter reaction was equally self-indulgent. The debates over her performance obscured the man who should have been under the microscope: Mark Zuckerberg. As a speaker, Facebook's CEO is trying to model himself after Steve Jobs. He's gotten help from Bill Clinton's former speaking coach. But so far, all he's learned is the fine art of saying nothing.
When you're a freelance writer and blogger forced to come all the way from Connecticut just for a Suzie Wong event, you'd better get in or there will be hell to pay. When Adam Bernard was shamefully denied entrance to the party last week, he decided to take out his wrath on the organizers, the PR firm of society mover and pedestrian runner-over Lizzie Grubman, by posting a video on his blog. Wrathful! Listen with sympathy as Adam details the "horrific" experience of being turned away at the door:
Brad Garlinghouse, the controversial Yahoo executive who won fame by accusing management of spreading investments around like a "thin layer of ... peanut butter", has a sister, Meg, who also works at the company. Who got whom the job at Yahoo is a matter of testy debate. What's undebatable: the brother-and-sister duo practically own Yodel Anecdotal, the company blog, this month. Three full posts are devoted to their glories.
Back when we had party correspondent Megan McCarthy to kick around, I made a point of assigning her all interviews with the German press. But now Leggy's headed to Wired, so when Der Spiegel called to interview me about Larry and Lucy's wedding, I had to handle it myself. And I think I acquitted myself pretty well. I think. The Google translation was a little unclear. "Webgemeinde baffles," indeed. Larry, when you get back, could you get someone working on this?
Facebook has bigger problems than the possibility of an FTC inquiry. 60 Minutes correspondent Lesley Stahl recently visited the company's Palo Alto offices, says Kara Swisher of AllThingsD. According to Swisher, Stahl interviewed CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chris Kelly, the network's chief privacy officer. Which can only mean one thing: A major exposé on Facebook coming soon on the hard-hitting CBS news show. Don't think it's serious?
When we first began to cover the many close relationships between flauntrepreneur Scott Jones's ChaCha search engine and Indiana University, the Indiana Herald-Times was one of the few local newspapers to closely question the relationship. Steve Hinnefeld of the Herald-Times was even following Valleywag's coverage, and came to similar conclusions: Although nothing legally wrong occurred, IU officials' failure to disclose their ChaCha ties was suspicious. However, since then the newspaper has provided the issue little attention. Why?
Attention, PR professionals: Want to get to the top of Techmeme? We gave you the four-word version of videoblogger Robert Scoble's whiteboard frenzy: Take Scoble to dinner. Don't believe us? Here's a more watchable 80-second snippet of Scoble's video, which I'm posting despite this protest from Valleywag special correspondent Paul Boutin: "No one watches bloggers on video. Unless they're in their underwear." The clip is even funnier if you imagine the monster plant from Little Shop of Horrors singing "Feed Me" as you watch.
OutCast PR held an AfterHours party at Frisson, the restaurant co-owned by Facebook board member Peter Thiel. So cozy, since Facebook is OutCast's biggest new client! The place was overrun with hacks and flacks. No surprise, since OutCast wants to show off its chummy press relationships, and other flacks are drawn to journalists like moths to flames. And, of course, OutCast wanted to keep things well-staffed to watch over reporters chatting up executives from Facebook and Yahoo, another big OutCast client. No need, it turned out.
Magazines, whose bread and butter used to be breaking news (exclusive photos) or making news (silly pronouncements like "Person of the Year"), are scrambling to beef up the security wall between their content and the Internet. But let's face facts: The exclusive is dead. Embargoes are pointless. Computers isolated from the Internet, armed guards, and nondisclosure agreements do nothing to sate the public's insatiable appetite for content. Blogs, on the other hand, are all too happy to feed it. Rather than increasing useless security measures, old media would be better served going with the flow by building open communities. Fortunately, at least one magazine editor, Richard Stengel of Time, gets it.
Prickly TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington is given to griping about PR people and their capricious rules. But he's not above setting his own rules when it comes to his TechCrunch40 conference. Specifically, presenting companies have been required to observe a press embargo until their turn on stage, and violators may be yanked from the lineup. With only 10 companies left to go, it seems like most of the startups have been sheepishly obedient to this rule. Anyone get yanked? Let us know. The full rules and regulations after the jump.
Huffington Post's Esther Wojcicki gushes over Google's Lunar X Prize. It's not the $30 million those nice Google boys, Larry and Sergey, are offering whomever can successfully land a rover on the moon. This Palo Alto schoolmarm is keen on all the teaching tools the Lunar X Prize is providing educators. She writes, "The team at the Lunar Xprize has prepared free learning guides, videos and other resources to help stimulate student interest not only in space but in math, science and technology as well." She sees this as an effort to rectify the "anti-science trend in schools." Google's efforts are all well and good, but there's another reason why this journalism teacher is so sweet on Larry Page and Sergey Brin — she's Brin's mother-in-law. Her daughter Anne married him in May. But the Google ties go even deeper. Her daughter Susan Wojcicki is Google's VP of product managementand Susan's garage in Menlo Park served as the search engine's first headquarters. Even daughter Janet is married to a former Googler.
After reading Tuesday's post on Apple unresponsive PR department, a tipster sent us the following juicy tidbit about the miserable life of Apple's PR staff. Apparently, they're kept almost as unenlightened as the press they work so hard to keep away. And a social life? Forget about it. More after the jump:
An article in Ad Age purports to expose something that every Valley reporter has long known, but never come out and said: Apple's PR department is the biggest group of slackers to grace the tech world. What, exactly, do they do all day long? It's a mystery. For the uninitiated reporter looking to get a quote, the list of Apple PR contacts, complete with direct-dial numbers, seems heaven-sent. But don't get too excited. Every call goes straight to voicemail, like the entire PR department paid its credit card bill late and is now ducking the collection agency. If you leave a voicemail, reporters say, it more often than not disappears into the ether, never to be returned.