Thursday, April 05, 2001

The Cyber Scene in Denver ~ by Susanne Lainson

On April 5 I attended the Cooley Godward open house to celebrate its new offices in Interlocken, where 61 lawyers and 57 staffers work. (Nationally, Cooley employs approximately 700 attorneys, including 15 in Denver.) Almost 500 people attended, making for a good party.

The real star of the event, however, was the facility: coffee bars throughout and a very open, centrally located lunch area with sleek aluminum stools. If the law business ever takes a dive, this place can open as an upscale club. The party was obviously designed to show off the space. There were drinks and food on two levels, and to sample everything you had to wander from top to bottom and from one end to the other. For example, I spotted a bar when I first came in and asked if they could give me a whiskey sour or margarita. No, this bar only had beer, wine and martinis. But if I went upstairs, I could find what I needed. So I tried the bar at the top of the stairs. They were mostly doing beer. But if I continued down the hall, I would find a bar with fruit drinks. I wandered past several other refreshment stands until finally, at the very end of the floor, I found a guy mixing up strawberry margaritas and Mai Tais at the "exotic blender bar." Mai Tais? I haven't had one of those in years, so of course, I had to try both.

Various attorneys were put to work hosting different refreshment stands. Jim Linfield, managing partner who opened the Boulder office in 1993 with four attorneys, had an in-office tasting featuring hand-selected wines and cheeses. Amy Hartman, head of the Colorado employment practice, hosted the sushi and sake event in her office. Andy Hartman, head of the Central States trademark, advertising, and copyright practice, served up caviar and vodka in his office (this food spot had the longest lines). Jim Brogan, head of the Colorado patent practice, offered chocolate fondue at the ninth-floor West Bar. Bernard Hatcher, Virginia Briggs and Dan Meehan sautéed veggies at the 10th-floor East Bar. Also available were a pasta and veggie bar, a seafood bar, hot poppers and munchies, a traditional buffet, and a dessert bar.

Another pleasant surprise came with the band. Singing along with the group was Wendy Woo. Being a big fan, I went over and chatted with her awhile. She's been playing ski areas recently and at the end of May will be appearing out in Santa Monica and San Francisco. She told me that her home base is now Denver, rather than Boulder.

As for party attendees, the VC community was well represented. Among those I spotted were Brad and Dan Feld of SoftBank Venture Capital, Catharine Merigold of Vista Ventures, André Pettigrew of iBelay, Rick Patch of Sequel Venture Partners, and Sara Gutterman of Boulder Ventures. Also there was Frank Amoroso, VP of Silicon Valley Bank.

Among those representing local companies were David Hieb, CEO of Namewise, Aloke Guha, president of DataVail, Gretchen Jahn, president/CEO of Aegis Analytical, Steve Swoboda, CFO of Ereo, Robert Welch, VP of business development for Tango Technologies, Tim Hoogheem, CFO of ChannelPoint, and Alan Kaplan, CEO of clickPLAY. One of the few non-food conversations I had was with Pete Simpson, head of the Boulder offfice for international industrial design firm IDEO. He said Boulder was a great place for his company because the lifestyle enhanced creativity.

Last, but not least, were those from various local professional organizations: Susan Osborne and Cynthia Ryan, co-presidents of the Front Range Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, and Cathy Ewing, executive director of the Colorado Software and Internet Association attended.

Some of us partied until the band packed up and left. Seems to me it was about eleven by the time I headed to my car. (Steve Swoboda has good dog stories, by the way.) Definitely one of the more creative parties I have been to. And as a souvenir, I have a Cooley Godward Swiss army knife.