The Naked Truth party wasn’t the three-ring circus I had hoped it would be. No one arrived by camel. The police didn’t shut the party down. There were big bouncers working security, but no velvet rope.
And yet everybody — hundreds of people — seemed to have a blast. Our goal in hosting the event was to foster direct conversations between journalists, bloggers and Seattle’s entrepreneurs and that was how it seemed to work out. It felt like things could happen between people that don’t normally happen, probably because I drank more than I should.
There was a panel then a party. I was so nervous handling the introductions that Dave Hanley asked from the back of the crowd if I was doing alright.
Just before the panel started, TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington told Wired’s Fred Vogelstein to get to the freaking point, then rolling his eyes, explained to everyone that he was quoting the Fred Vogelstein dossier that a PR agency accidentally mailed to Fred Vogelstein. Later he pulled in everyone’s else’s microphones so that they all sat in front of him and then leaned back, smiling.
Fred said that you should hire an agency, but only if they’re unlikely to work with you (the elite, selective firms). The WSJ’s Becky Buckman admitted to having a soft spot for goofy, impassioned pitches from entrepreneurs (by e-mail, so you don’t freak her out too much). The PI’s John Cook, looking healthy and quick in a Ho Chi Minh outfit, explained that he doesn’t mind talking to crazy people — our eyes met — but that follow-up clarifications (BY E-MAIL) are always appreciated.
One brave entrepreneur stood up to say how he and his agency had tried to get into Wired and TechCrunch; Michael Arrington told him you never will (“We just hate you,” Fred chimed in, jokingly. “It’s not them, it’s you,” Michael said). MC Greg Gottesman asked the Seattle Times’s Tricia Duryee how best to spin a story, and Tricia asked, “why not just tell the truth?” Then she teased John Cook about whose circulation was bigger.
On the subject of scoops, Becky Buckman explained that she likes to have a “concept exclusive,” in which she can tell a meaningful story behind events that others may have already covered. Michael Arrington said he didn’t need an exclusive scoop on a story, so long as a news embargo was taken seriously by everybody else (I think I saw him check his iPhone in the middle of the panel). John Cook was asked what his favorite kind of story was and immediately replied “AN EXCLUSIVE.”
Becky was unexpectedly moving in a comment about ethics in journalism. Michael begged people to eliminate “revolutionary” and anything else that sounds like marketing babble from their vocabularies, suggesting instead that companies pitch themselves like movies (“‘Tootsie” meets ‘The Longest Yard’” –>”MySpace for senior citizens”). He also said he couldn’t fathom the reason an entrepreneur wouldn’t blog, explaining that the network of links between blogs is the currency for exchanging information and traffic between his site and theirs — then added, but “don’t break your own news on your blog.”
As the panel wound down, a gigantic barbecue trailer backed into the parking lot. Its ghastly perfume wafted over the audience, but their attention never wavered. The panel was great — really lively — and it was good too.
And wasn’t Greg Gottesman a magnificent host? He never looked at any notes, he never sounded like the teacher in Charlie Brown, he spread the action around to all the panelists.
Then the party got underway. One partygoer asked another how his social networking site was different than others (answer: “you’re an asshole.”) iLike’s Hadi Partovi, modeling his own company t-shirt underneath a blazer, looked every inch the hip Web 2.0 entrepreneur. Amit Mital, Redfin’s first fanatical investor, demanded extra drink tickets for his years of support. An intern, Alex Loddengaard, asked my wife out to dinner (she said yes).
A kindly young woman challenged Fred Vogelstein, who flew up for the event in the middle of a deadline, to explain why Wired put a half-naked woman on its cover (answer: “I didn’t think they’d go for it either.”) Michael Arrington trampled me on the way to the bar.
Tricia Duryee wore big sunglasses. Peter Cochran looked like a model for a surfing magazine. Paul Goodrich talked up his Croatian triathlon training regimen. Our progenitor, David Eraker, suddenly stood before me, a large, happy presence.
Michael Dougherty battled back a horde of Redfin engineers from recruiting a colleague at his new startup. With his deep, knee-buckling voice, Matt Goyer asked a woman about interviewing at Redfin (“my boss is right over there,” she squeaked).
After months of harassing us about Safari support, Mike Davidson suddenly appeared in the flesh to take my chest-heaving, tearful confession. (I tried to blame Microsoft. He introduced me to his friend from Microsoft).
A man told me his name had been erased from the invitation wiki by a saboteur. John Cook overhead him, and smelling a juicy story, suggested we go back through the edit history to find the culprits.
Someone complained to me about a beer shortage. I told him Zillow drank it.
Angela Cough promised there would be a vegetarian option (the corn bread was terrible). Cynthia Pang pointed someone out and said “That girl is NOT nice!” Angela nodded violently, arms folded across her chest, menacing even when pregnant.
I wobbled out of the party while the sun was just setting behind the mountains, on one of the longest days of a very short and wonderful summer.
Many, many thanks to the journalists who took the time to come to the event, to the team at Havana Social Club for hosting a great party, to Angela Cough and Elise Hebb for putting it together, to Cynthia Pang for coming up with the name and helping out, to Madrona for helping us pay for so much of it, to iLike, Wetpaint, Jobster, Farecast and WildTangent for their support, to everyone who came. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
We all had a really good time. Please tag your Flickr photos with nakedtruth. We’ll post the video in a jiffy. Any details we forgot about, or that John Cook didn’t address in his excellent post, just add a comment.