Hanging with the Valley Rat Pack

Hanging with Silicon Valley's Rat Pack

After Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote speech, I headed over to the Flickr and Fire Eagle party at the Iron Cactus on Austin’s main drag. (More on Fire Eagle later.) My colleague Catherine Holahan and I grabbed some tasty Tex-Mex and tequila.

Then guess who walked into the room? Silicon Valley’s own Rat Pack: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Digg founder Kevin Rose, StumbleUpon cofounder Garrett Camp and WineLibrary founder Gary Vaynerchuck.

Since Catherine met Zuckerberg the night before, he invited us over to his table where the Rat Pack was drinking the local brews Lone Star and Shiner Bock.

I asked Zuckerberg how he thought his keynote speech went. He didn’t seem too bothered by it. Then again, he wasn’t the one getting flamed in the blogosphere. “Sarah Lacy should have asked you tougher questions,” said one of Facebook’s top designers who was hanging with Zuckerberg and his posse. (Lacy took a lot of heat, perhaps a bit unfairly, from a developer-heavy crowd that wanted fewer strategy questions and more tech heavy talk.)

I told Zuckerberg that I was impressed that during the Keynote presentation he admitted Facebook had made some mistakes in its short but highflying tenure. If you’re not making mistakes as a company, you’re probably not thinking boldy enough. The key is to learn from those mistakes and quickly move on.

But that was enough business talk. Everyone wanted to unwind and sample more of the local scene.

A bunch of folks noticed Zuckerberg and began popping by to say hello, including former Yahoo! Brickhouse head Salim Ismail. After Microsoft dropped its hostile offer on Yahoo! Salim said he took a buyout offer from the company.

I asked him if a lot of other smart people were bailing on Yahoo! now that Microsoft had Yahoo! in its vice grips. “Oh yeah,” he said. Fire Eagle, a Web service that allows people to share location information, was the last project to spin out of Brickhouse before Salim left. Now, he’s working on a few startup ideas.

After a few hours, we blew out of the Iron Cactus and headed down the street to the Shakespeare bar. The entourage expanded. A few folks from Pownce dropped by and then Robert Scoble ambled in. Scoble, who reinvented himself as a blogger after serving as a tech evangelist at Microsoft, proposed to interview Zuckerberg at SXSW. Score one for the geeks.

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