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

Garden party part 5: SVW uncovers backyard plot by Microsoft loyalists. . .

Posted by Tom Foremski - June 17, 2005

. . .McNealy silenced by Redmond gold? And who else?

By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher

Ozzie.gifRay Ozzie, creator of Lotus Notes, head of Groove Networks, and now CTO of Microsoft, won the last of the 2005 SDForum visionary awards. Although he deserves such an award for his body of work, I couldn't quite rid my mind of thoughts of Microsoft, and its hand at work.

It's not unnatural that the world's most innovative software company would seek to ally itself with the world's most innovative region bar none.

After all, being stuck up there in the soggy northwest, in the Fortress of Solitude, the cabin fever must be terrible. Here, in Silicon Valley, companies are challenged moment by moment. You get up and say one thing, and ten others will tell you you are a fool - and they'll prove it. That's what makes it good. That's why the innovation is here.

Looking back on the evening, there was clearly an attempt at some rapprochement between the world's capital of innovation, and the world's largest most-found-guilty-of-crushing-innovation-through-illegal practices computer company.

Gates.jpgBill Gates was present at the event, at least in moving image, as a prerecorded video projected a large talking head onto a screen, to introduce his boy Ray Ozzie.

[I thought I heard Bill Gates say, "Sorry about Netscape and all of that, it was the 90s....you know, youthful exuberance, what can you do? It's all a blur....and believe me, we paid for it, and we're still paying for it! Ouch. We're not going to do that again in a hurry, you can bet on that. We're completely fine now, so give us a chance, take us back, we're your buddies...Look, any of you, seriously, even you VCs.... can come up and crash at my place, a-ny-t-i-m-e. It's on a lake, really nice. Scott?....Scott? Tell them how nice it is....Ray...you tell them.....By the way, what are you guys up to these days...working on anything good? We've got nada up here...)

Instead of saying what was on most people's minds, BFG said something about Ray Ozzie. Then he was gone, and Ray Ozzie made what was for many, the best speech of the evening. Unfortunately, I had to step out to get a fresh battery for my camera and missed it.

The podium part of the evening ended with Heidi Roizen, our gracious and generous hostess, who jibbed and jabbed at her guests in a fun, lighthearted manner. She mentioned the geriatric research opportunities provided by the audience. And she spoke about a visit by Bill Gates, a few months ago. She said her 12 year old daughter said it was very cool that Mr Gates was visiting, and she asked if the Xbox was the only thing that Microsoft made.

[Microsoft, an icon of emerging youth culture? Whatever next...] Mr McNealy, under normal circumstances would have had some ready ammunition for his stand up act. He would have been calling Microsoft "the video games company," just as he has slammed HP for being the "printer ink company" because that's where its profits were made.

However, Mr McNealy was quiet, and has laid off all Microsoft jokes. Is it because Microsoft gave his company a ton of money? Nobody knows...

Ms Roizen said that it was difficult thinking of Mr Ozzie as working for Microsoft, and she said how bizarre it'll be when Scott turns up with a Microsoft badge. Ouch, I thought, that's a bit harsh.

But does she know something? Ms Roizen and Mr Gates have been close friends for many years.

Garden party part two: McNealy's tips for creating room at the top

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 . . .


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