15:51 PM

Silicon Valley Visionaries Mass in Heidi's Backyard...

By Tom Foremski

My favorite event of the summer is the SDForum Visionary Awards celebration at Heidi Roizen and Dave Mohler's home in Woodside.

This invitation-only event is one of a kind, it is where you will hear stories  you never heard before as Silicon Valley's aristocracy relaxes and celebrates itself. It is a garden party without comparison.

This year I was pleased to run into Irving Wladawsky-Berger, one of IBM's top strategists. Now that he is semi-retired I'm hoping he will turn up to more Silicon Valley events such as this one.

This year there were four visionary awards. The first went to Trip Hawkins, introduced by Dave Evans, a former colleague.

Visionary: Trip Hawkins

Trip Hawkins is one of those legendary Silicon Valley characters, probably best known for his time at 3DO, which was once touted as the next generation in gaming systems. Delays meant that the company ended up a half-a-step ahead of the competition rather than several strides but Mr Hawkins managed to turn the company around and reposition it as a successful game software company.

Mr Hawkins recalled a time when he was working with Steve Jobs. His boss came by his desk one day and said:" Trip, you've never taken LSD before have you? No, I didn't think so..." And he walked away.

Visionary: Craig McCaw

Next up for an award was Craig McCaw, the only Telco mogul to be awarded an SDForum Visionary Award. He was introduced by his wife, Susan. She did a good job but it was a shame that SDForum chickened out of roasting him, which is the typical format for those that introduce a Visionary Awards winner. Doesn't the valley have the chutzpah to do it? [It's understandable, the Telcos do have us in the palm of their hands...]

Mrs McCaw is a formidable person in her own right, 

she is US ambassador to Austria.

Mr McCaw talked about the spirit of entrepreneurism, of being a "serial maniac" and the adrenaline rush he gets from new ventures...which in his case involve billions of dollars not the tens of millions most of the garden party visitors deal with.

Visionary: Mike Moritz

Microsoft's Dan'l Lewin introduced Mike Moritz, a former journalist turned Silicon Valley Venture Capitalist. Not just a VC but one of the the valley's top VCs.

[Here is an alternate career path that might serve to inspire journalists currently leaving the SF Chronicle and SJ Merc...]

Mr Lewin apologized for being "nice" in his introduction but said it was a habit, part of working for Microsoft, he tries to be nice to everyone in Silicon Valley. BTW, Mr Lewin is another former colleague of Steve Jobs'.

Mr Moritz gave a short acceptance speech, making a reference to Walt Mossberg (next up) about not upsetting a man who buys ink by the barrel. It was a little mangled in delivery and fell flat.

Visionary: Walt Mossberg

Kara Swisher from the Wall Street Journal introduced Mr Mossberg and she quickly had the audience smiling and laughing. Earlier in the evening, Ms Swisher looked very rock star, arriving in black shades and jeans, in a rebellious disregard for the smart attire suggested for the event.

She paid homage to the humility of Mr Mossberg, in one of the longest introductions of the evening. She also mentioned she was gay and that Mr Mossberg was definitely not a misogynist. (It all flowed together and made sense, you had to be there...)

Mr Mossberg revealed that he was once a programmer, he had written a program for the Sinclair Timex computer (that was my first computer) that asked people to think of a number between one and ten.

He had many anecdotes about switching from his former beat at WSJ covering Washington politics to covering the world of gizmos and gadgets.

Who could have guessed which career path would prove to become more influential?

Special Award: Heidi Roizen

The standout characteristic of the SDForum Awards is that there are more women entrepreneurs and women VCs represented and celebrated than at any other event in Silicon Valley. It is this element that makes the event seem more relevant.

This year Ann Winblad, one of the valley's top VCs introduced her long-time friend Heidi Roizen, the host of the awards, and a fellow VC and also a key player in the creation of many Silicon Valley companies (and marriages.)

More SDForum Awards coverage is on its way...

Here are some of my prior SDForum Award articles:

I went to a garden party....and Carly Fiorina was there. So was Scott McNealy, Larry Sonsini, Ray Ozzie. and a digital Bill Gates, seeking valley love

I went to a garden party
Carol-Bartz-sm.jpg Valley aristocracy share in-jokes as well as insights at SDForum visionary awards event, with entertainment from Carol Bartz, Scott McNealy, Bill Draper, Ann Winblad, Larry Sonsini, Ray Ozzie and a Max Headroom-like digital Bill Gates. Read our five-part series.

Posted by Tom Foremski on June 21, 2005 3:03 AM


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

. . .McNealy silenced by Redmond gold? And who else? By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher Ray Ozzie, creator of Lotus Notes, head of Groove Networks, and now CTO of Microsoft, won the last of the 2005 SDForum visionary awards. Although...

Posted by Tom Foremski on June 17, 2005 4:15 AM


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

. . . too little, a bit late By Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher Larry Sonsini, Silicon Valley's uber-uber lawyer, introduced Carly Fiorina. He said lots and lots of nice things. He noted Ms Fiorina had helped spin-out Lucent Technologies, the...

Posted by Tom Foremski on June 17, 2005 12:32 AM


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


Posted by Tom Foremski on June 16, 2005 3:46 AM


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

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. Scott McNealy, Sun's CEO, introduced...

Posted by Tom Foremski on June 16, 2005 3:36 AM