06:12 AM

PR Watch: The Outcast CEO dinner party part 1: The Silicon Valley Hack Pack turns up...

Outcast Communications, the public relations agency, has been doing very well lately and that showed clearly at its 3rd Annual CEO dinner at the Clift on Wednesday evening. The place was full of Silicon Valley luminaries, including much of Silicon Valley's Hack Pack of leading journalists. I picked up some great stories, (however, I also picked up a hangover and forgot some of them!)

Outcast was founded by Margit Wennmachers and Caryn Marooney in 1997 and I've been a fan for a long time because of the "startup" culture of Outcast. It has outgrown its “boutique” image by winning some large corporate clients such as EMC’s software group, and Dell’s Enterprise group. (More on Outcast next week...now back to the party.)

Fortunately for the many baseball fans amongst the hundred or so guests, Outcast had set up a large TV outside the dining room for pre-dinner cocktails. And there was a large and lively crowd following the game.

I preferred the TV-less lounge area, where I could catch up with fellow reporters, such as Constance Loizos, a lead reporter for Dow Jones Venture Capital Analyst: Technology newsletter. This is also where Andreas Kluth from the Economist was hiding out. I was complaining that I hardly see him, “that’s because I hate driving over the bridge and into the city,” he said. And that is how you know that an event is worthwhile attending if you see that Andreas is there.

Jason Maynard, software analyst at Merrill Lynch was also in the lounge area. I asked him if he had been following Salesforce.com at all. Interestingly, Jason said he had not yet initiated coverage of Outcast's largest, and oldest client--Saleforce.com--led by the colorful Marc Benioff.(I wish the valley had more Benioffs BTW.)

Jason and I listened to the delightful Julia Blystone from Outcast tell us about Halsey Minor’s new $50m “On Demand” venture capital fund. It targets “On Demand” investments. It was announced earlier in the month but I missed it.

I asked who else is funding the fund and was told it is all Halsey. And why not? Halsey has shown a Midas touch and has done very well. He did very well on his Cnet stock, selling a big chunk before the bubbles popped. And more recently, he has done very well out of his buddy Marc Benioff’s Salesforce.com IPO. Halsey was an early investor in Salesforce and had a nice chunk of that deal. And he is also pushing hard with his Grand Central Communications web services company.

As an aside, I found an interesting link to a webinar conducted jointly between Halsey and Jason Maynard. Next time I see Jason I’d like to ask him how this type of thing is set up. For example, can I hire a Merrill analyst to do a webinar? Or is it a customer type of thing, say, if I kept my IRA at Merrill?

From a posting on WebServices.org:

“Enterprise Software in an On Demand World - Webinar, 17th June, 10am PST

Join Jason Maynard, Software Analyst for Merrill Lynch and Halsey Minor, Founder of Grand Central Communications for an executive webinar to learn how "On Demand software could lower overall cost of deployment by 5x-10x compared to traditional implementation models, effectively changing the way customers buy, vendors sell and investors invest".


And this is the press release announcing Halsey's new venture fund. You’ll notice that Halsey’s buddies provide unbiased testaments to the power and insight of his investment skills ;-)


Part II of the Outcast Party report...