I arrived back in New York just in time to attend the MOUSE Holiday Benefit party on Tuesday, December 3rd. The crisp cold night made the excitement about this organization's first major benefit even more heightened. Executive director Sarah Holloway's and president Andrew Raisej's decision to host the event in Jonathan Leitersdorf's stunning triplex apartment added to the drama and sense of specialness appropriate for this non-profit. Letiersdorf donated the use of his six bedroom home-cum-rented-party-space complete with heated pool (outside on a deck facing East).
The guest list read like New York's Who's Who of new media CEO's, venture capitalists, and small business owners. Robert Levitan (iVillage), Lara Stein and Diana Butler (iXL), and MOUSE board member Peter Chislett came in support with friends. Gordon Gould, executive editor for the Silicon Alley Reporter, Roz Resneck of NetCreations and two of her friends arrived early, along with many other attendees. Real estate guru Debra Lee Charatan and her friend Victoria spent some quality time at the event, firmly entrenched in conversation by the massive stone fireplace with roaring fire. Andrew Klein of Wit Capital and his colleague all had the opportunity to enjoy stunning views and mouth-watering Asian cuisine hors d'ouvres Even Andy's mom showed up! Other family members of Silicon Alley movers and shakers and some high school friends of Ms. Holloway helped make this high-powered $250 a ticket event seem warm and friendly. Andrew Raisej spoke for a brief bit on MOUSE (Making Opportunities for Upgrading Schools and Education) and its successes. The non-profit has currently wired and trained teachers in 15 New York City public high and junior-high schools on integrating the Internet and new technologies. Two high school students shared their dreams of future success, conceivable due to the new world MOUSE has opened up for them. Upstairs the grass carpeted patio led to a glass-enclosed duplex where many guests stood in awe of views of stars above and their friends downstairs, which they could spy on thanks to the 12-foot projection screen monitor set in the room. Seasoned new media-ites Troy Tyler (NYC Investment Fund), Mark Hurst (Creative Good), Ted Werth (Digital Club Network), and a spiffy chap in a checked suit were mixed in with a motley crew of seasoned investment types, some less paletable than others. One self-important gentleman stood impatiently at the door upon arrival, throwing a blank check at one of the guest list checkers, while on his cell, and barked "Just fill it all out." Upstairs, rumor has it another man flat out propositioned a woman (name withheld, but she was a classy art restorer). Well, not everyone had the class, or panache that newly IPO'd success stories Jack and Murray Hidary had as they escorted their father around. Judging from the happy faces of guests as they arrived and their even more beaming looks as they filtered out, the MOUSE event was a success in many ways. The stunning space and fund-raising success (unofficially it reached several tens of thousands), reflect and highlight MOUSE's grand goals and achievements. As the holiday season continues on, let's continue to look at the good works around us, take a little time for charity and for your soul. It'll feel good, and you'll probably have a good time at it!