Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Garden party part two: How McNealy creates room at the top...

Posted by Tom Foremski - June 16, 2005

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

Part 2 of our tales from the annual SDForum Visionary Awards garden party in Woodside, at which the Valley aristocracy let their hair down and tell stories about each other.

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Scott McNealy, Sun's CEO, introduced Carol Bartz, CEO of Autodesk and a former Sun VP. Mr McNealy played the familiar role of that irascible character we all know and love from many performances.

Mr McNealy was in classic form Wednesday evening, dressed in his signature jeans, light shirt and navy blue blazer, and sharing a vignette or two about Ms. Bartz, who used to work at Sun.

He recalls that Ms Bartz stomped into his office and resigned because of a generous rival job offer. Mr McNealy acted swiftly: He walked down the corridor and into the office of his VP of Marketing and said "You're fired." He walked back over to Ms Bartz and said "You can't resign, you're VP of Marketing!" What happened to Lloyd, Ms Bartz asked? "Lloyd is no longer with us," deadpanned Mr McNealy. Lots of laughter.

Mr McNealy, encouraged by audience response, forged ahead and started to talk about Ms. Bartz spawning, at which point he was hooked off the podium. A gracious Ms. Bartz gave him a "you naughty boy" look.

Ms. Bartz said that the firing incident was her first introduction to how the valley works; but since then (1983) she has come to thrive on being here, relishing the incredible ecosystem, creativity, and describing the region as "nirvana."

She jabbed good-heartedly at SOX, investors, and over-zealous boards of directors, to much amusement; but she tore into "flat worlders" Thomas Friedman and his ilk (critics of globalization), saying that she didn't care much for that point of view.

Does anybody remember when we used to outsource to Huntsville and Kentucky, she asked?

Garden party part three: Bill Draper, the godfather of Silicon Valley's oldest VC dynasty

Garden party part 4: Larry Sonsini leads valley lovefest for Carly Fiorina . . .

Part 5: SVW uncovers backyard plot by Microsoft loyalists
(And read Part 1).

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