Thursday, September 25, 1997

Flatiron Partners' new offices

Unveiling a stunning new office suite straight out of the pages of Architectural Digest that looked like it cost as much as many Silicon Alley companies have for seed money, the Flatiron Partners opened a real-world monument to their cyberspace business last week that does everything but shout "class" up and down Broadway.

Stepping out onto the 12th floor landing at 257 Park Avenue South, visitors to the Partners' new digs were greeted with calming green and beige tile mosaic framing the historic Flatiron building. The smooth blond wood floors pulled you toward the massive glass doors, washing up onto a hard grey corian-like floor balanced with dark grey monochromatic checkerboard clipped carpeting.

Right at the entrance of this sleek new airy office space, designed by David Levin, was @NY editor Jason Chervokas chatting with Evan Goetz of Edelman PR. After announcing his recent promotion from senior account executive to account supervisor, Evan divulged that Jeff Ratner (vice president, associate director, Brand Dialogue) used to be a very generous baby-sitter and let him watch Night Rider. Awwww.

The crowd was thick with stylishly clad notable new media types including the partners themselves, Fred Wilson and Jerry Colonna; some of the folks they've invested in, including Yoyodyne honcho Seth Godin and eShare chief James Tito.

While Citysearch was having a party the same night to celebrate the redesign of their site--and Metrobeat founder Mark Davies flew in from the west coast with newly-dyed bleach blond hair--I couldn't pull myself away from the sleek black filing cabinets clustered near desks separated by low folding screens of hard-frosted plastic with black frames. As beautiful as a seven-figure SoftBank check...almost.

Outside the glass-enclosed conference room, with its revolutionary ironing board room table, I met Jeffrey Phillips, director of sales and marketing for Rhizome Internet L.L.C., who talked about the objects in StockObjects' new media stock library. Similar to a stock library of photos, StockObjects licenses 3D models, Java, Shockwave, gif animations, VRML, flash and other Web development objects for developers.

Ed Bennett greeted me enthusiastically and I told him about all the fun I had traveling across the country and riding a motorcycle at Burning Man. He had many good stories too about his travels to beautiful Vietnam, which is hooked up to the world...sorta. Not the Internet, but "NamNet" is owned by the government where apparently all e-mails stay for several days on the server. Whether these are actually read or not is still up to speculation.

Ed also spoke lively of his days at VH1 in 1991. Inundated with calls from record labels who were sending him bucketsfull of demos, Ed decided to try and make something more useful with all this money being poured into producing music videos. During a typically beautiful Napa Valley evening at Francis Ford Coppola's, Ed and he planned a series on VH1 of long format programming. No shortage of film students knocking on Mr. Coppola's door, they decided to reroute the undiscovered talent from the typical arduous path of getting a job as a director of music videos to commercials to big movies (if lucky). Coppola would find the grads and they would use the record lable company's money to produce something worth the great director's time (not your average 4 minute video). The first one was William Burrough's "A Junkies Christmas" done by a Yugoslavian director who was an animation genius.

These days Ed is busy with "10 different things" ranging from radio syndication, a new cable network launch that is niche driven to foreign languages. He told me how the US is really one of the only countries that is so niche driven in its marketing, and outside the US "its mass marketing." For instance China is installing 14 million cellular phones a year, and the demand is increasing.

(Appeared originally in @The Scene in the @NY newsletter)