It is truly amazing to think that just two years ago MOUSE began as an idea between Sarah Holloway and Andrew Raisej. Just two years ago, through a WWWAC Holiday party benefiting MOUSE, they received approximately $1500. And since then, they've received 10,000 shares of StarMedia stock, stock in other companies, significant donations by CitiGroup and hundreds of hours of donated volunteer time and equipment to wire the city's public schools.
The banquet room in Windows on the World, at the World Trade Center, was brimming with the city's top net-CEOs and nentrepreneurs in the business of bringing the Internet and new technology industry forward. Upon arrival for the cocktail reception, I was first greeted with butlers offering Champagne. Taking a glass, I stopped and chatted with Alice O'Rourke of NYNMA, who looked elegant in her long taffeta skirt and Diane Butler of iXL was as beautiful as ever in her lovely cocktail dress. Also up front was James Cramer of TheStreet.com was chatting with friends (looking elegant with a lovely rose-colored shirt). Further inside the buzz and energy from the over 520 guests who arrived was infectious.
Andrew Weinreich of SixDegrees and I chatted a bit as the butlers were ushering us into the dining room where I spotted whole tables devoted to devotees from 24/7, SOHOnet, The Street.com and Reciprocal.
I was seated with the charming Ted Werth of Digital Club Network, the dashing Adeo Ressi of MethodFive, Paul Carpenter and Marc Andersen of Darwin Capital Management, David Eigen of ProspectStreetVentures and Caroline Waxler of Forbes. Henry Bar-Levav of Oven Digital introduced me to the other Oven-ers at his table, which included Lans King, Judith Keenan (who I met in the press room at Digital Hollywood in LA) and other top management, designers and producers. Larry Lux (CEO) and Mark Berniker (executive producer of BizTech) were dining with their colleagues at the Pseudo table and just adjacent to them were the Cablevision folks. After the very nice series of introductions and presentations, starting with welcomes from Joanne Wilson--the dynamic woman who jumpstarted MOUSE's fundraising--and Andrew Raisej--the unrelentingly devoted founder and president. We saw a video presentation done by students and then the six presentations. Two remarkably driven students were honored first--Alexi Franklin and Genevieve Krause, then student Violeta Pantaleon honored Gregg Betheil, Raymond Quinones announced Ferando Espuelas' award, which was received by a representative of StarMedia. Washington Irving HS student Cristobal Vizcaino introduced Mark Swanson of iXL, which is one of the few companies that shows marked support for MOUSE by allowing its employees to volunteer during working hours. Juana Perez honored Charles Raymond, the newly named president and COO of Citigroup. Then the elusive but revered Geraldine Laybourne spoke glowingly of Zoe Baird as she introduced and honored her. Zoe delivered a thoughtful keynote, which Andrew Raisej echoed in his closing comments.
Of course, even at a sit-down dinner these new media sorts can't sit still so the table-hopping ensued during dinner and desert. I hopped over to say hello to Melissa Grossman of Zefer and she introduced me to Frank Dudley (who recently left Viant to head up Zefer's innovation practice), Antonio Pagan (commissioner, NYC Dep. of Employment) and Gina Amorelli (marketing manager). Nearby Burt Alimansky of Alimansky Capital was entertaining friends with his warm and engaging personality (and striking dark suit). He introduced me to Richard Salute and Susan Hoffberg of Arthur Andersen, Damien Cohen of Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison and Michael Fitzgerald of Crest Communications. The networking and celebrating continued well after the last glass of wine was poured and on all accounts this was a very successful event.