Jolly Ole England was the setting for Cocktails with Courtney this past week, and despite an overcast sky, most everyone who came was in a sunny mood. Sponsored by W Hotels, IBM's Web Integrator Initiative and the DERA (Defence Evaluation and Research Agency), the event lit up the Retox lounge with aromatic W Hotel travel candles and Jet Lag balm strategically placed around the room. IBM representatives Howard Ross, Michael Mauchline and Adrian Kohn won favor with their IBM-branded tennis balls (from their official sponsorship of this week's Wimbolden) and a raffle of a Palm and Thinkpad. DERA stood on its solid story and had printouts near the door for interested guests. Mike Parkins, DERA’s business group manager of Civil Marine Systems, told me that he had the obligatory "minders" with him. Simon Chapman, project manager of the DERA systems & software engineering center, was on hand to make sure that Mike said in his speech only what he had approval to say. Despite the seemingly restrictive environment, all the DERA people I met were quite jovial, nice, exceedingly polite and smart.
Among some of the first few people I met were James Baker, deputy editor of MIS magazine, Roger Dennis from World Com and Dion Jerling of Orange20. David Sparks, Mark West and Gregory Newman from Elan recruitment were also settling in before the masses showed up. I introduced myself to Ian Montgomery and Sarah De Jonge of MRI International and Patricia Walsh of Forrester, just as the rest of the Forrester clan arrived -- Imogen Harris, Mike Shaw, Tom Bausemer and Emma Taylor. James Aitken and Iain Starr of Seattle-based Avenue A told me some people in their office forwarded them the invitation and recommended they check out this New York-initated cocktail party.
James Ware of DotHill.com, Simon Devonshire of the Yellow Submarine and Rajen Lakhani of SmarterWork.com were among some of the other new faces I met at this hard-to-find-but "swish" venue in Covent Garden. Katia Verresen, Garage.com's managing director of European bizdev, and Financial Times’ growing business correspondent Katherine Campbell inquired about the cocktail parties and how I thought this one stacked up against others. Quite well! In the back corner, the team from Pres.co -- Alexander Gray, David Daly, Phil Barryman, Tara Wingfield, Edward Denes, David Watson and Guy Timewell -- were enjoying the endless trays of hors d'oeuvres, and Oven Digital (the firm chosen by W Hotels to redesign their web sites) was out in full force with Nicolas Roope (from the London office), and Steve Cannon and Iram Quraishi (from the NY office). Proving the concept even more -- that a cocktail party in London is truly an international mixer -- Keith Jon Kaplan and Michael Gorman of L90's New York office stopped by for some fun, as did Arly Kjellstad, Sony's director of bizdev & online ventures.
Patrick Spain of Austin-based Hoovers Online encouraged Gehan Talwatte, the company's MD for Europe, to come. And while chatting with him about Spain's catfish collection, we met up with Andrew Iain Newcombe of Doubleclick and Julian Ha, a London Cocktails with Courtney regular! Maggie Rosen, our contributor for The Cyber Scene in London, came by and introduced me to some friends -- Glenda Stone of Busygirl.co.uk. Sean Lynch of W Hotels spoke about the chain's upcoming openings of London and Union Square NY hotels. Pal Myrvold of Pock and Richard Smith, Kenneth McLeish, Robert Walker and Sam Tuck of Barclays Bank were there to network. Harry Becher and I caught up on all the news since my last cocktail party in fair London, held at his club, Rock. The party continued on strong, well after its described time, and when the guests did eventually take their leave, I went out for some fine Chinese food in London's China Town with my DERA sponsors and Lu Barron of Tank Management.