Tuesday, October 12, 1999

Classic Cocktails

Location, Location, Location! The Golden Rule of Real Estate holds true for many outlets in life, and was an especially significant element for the debut of "Cocktails with Courtney" in San Francisco on Tuesday, October 12th. Bill Ryan, Chairman of Niehaus Ryan Wong, one of the "correct" PR firm that you want working for you, offered up his lovely home with stunning views atop a dramatic hill in San Francisco. The opportunity to entertain in this elegant, hospitable, setting was a true treat for me, as one aspect of the spirit of these parties harkens back to the era when people hosted grand cocktail parties in their homes, Emily Post ruled and people carefully balanced Martinis as they whispered "Oh, Darhling!" in response to some particularly vicious news. 

There were some vicious rumors flying about this night, as the fog-sea covered the city early on, but mostly the evening offered delicious conversations balanced by the delicious hors d'oeuvres and buffet especially prepared by some very talented women caterers. Phillip Knowlton and Conrad Asper of Craig's List were early attendees and Russ Mitchell of RedHat.com stopped by before heading out to another function. Ed Niehaus greeted guests in his sharp blue shirt and coordinated jacket. We wondered about the distance he'd cover when he ocean-kayaks around the Island of Manhattan. Stay tuned for the Finish Line party for when he does! Craig Newmark (of Craig's List) and Burt Chojnowsky and I chatted for a while and I met a few of the other talented key players of NRW before I stepped outside to the lower-level patio. 

The moist, crisp, fog-induced air encouraged non-St. Louis Encephalitis mosquitoes to venture forth. And venture forth they did with a vengeance at one point. I looked down and saw my legs hosting a few creatures, which was when I made my exit from the patio that extended from the swimming pool and bar room. I ascended the three stories and to see whom else arrived. Rick Bruner of IMT Strategies and Steve Shepherd of Synergy were there with John McChesney, the technology correspondent with NPR. Bill Ryan introduced me to one of his oldest friends, Christine Comaford of Artemis Ventures. They recalled memories of when Bill used to pitch her for her column with PC Week. "Never write a weekly column while you're trying to start up a company," were her words of wisdom from that time. Hmmm, I knew I felt a synergy from her when I first saw her at Harvard's Cyberposium last year. John Berard of Fitzgerald Communications and Collette McMullen of Lumeria were also upstairs, clustered by the Baby Grand. The Thinking Visionary in our industry, Jerry Michalski stopped by with his wife Jennifer and their friend (and New York-based) Lauren Wechsler of BlueMarble. Jerry and I met years ago in New York, before he ventured West and it was fun to see them on this coast. 

Nicki Dugan and Marnie Powers (Director of NRW) were fun to chat with, and NRW's director of biz dev, Kazumi Mechling, and I schemed up other San Fran "Cocktails with Courtney's" to come. Much discussion of other NRWers was centered on the recent installment of art in their offices. A four-panel, mural-sized Graffiti piece on the topic of Home was hung Monday night by Terrain gallery director Armando Rascon. This mixed-media piece with wallpaper, skateboard designs, a spray-painted flying rabbit and newspaper clippings of apartments for rent and the meanings of Home was done by one of the top skateboard-artists, and is the first recorded example of art that was actually created by skateboarding on it as part of the design! The entire office, actually, acts as a minor modern art museum with pieces from Bill Ryan's extensive collection that fill the walls with color, texture and emotion. Of course, each cubicle contains its occupant's distinctive personality as well. 

I spoke with many other guests too, including Scott Eagle of Gator.com and Lisa Key, who recently moved to San Francisco from NY as the evening and the fog rolled along. Cory Smith of Start Media Broadband and I caught up since our last meeting at the Streaming Media East conference in New York. By the end of the evening the fog was quite thick and we played at moving through it as we drove in our respective cars back down into the city.