Michael Wolff, of “Burn Rate” fame related this doozy of a story at the Information Industry Summit.
“A little less than a year ago I was out at a conference on the West Coast. And there was a guy at this conference who in New York we refer to as the mysterious billionaire. We have no idea what he does, but he lives in the largest private residence in Manhattan. That’s what everybody always says, that specific phrase: “He lives in the largest private residence in Manhattan.” He also travels in a private plane, which I had once been on. I went out to Kennedy and there were all these G5s parked there. And I started to kind of move over to them, and the guy taking it out said no and shifted my attention to a 767.
I got on this plane first with some other people. And then the mysterious billionaire came on, followed by three teenage girls (not his daughters). At any rate, we’re at this conference and it finishes and he’s going to L.A. and offers me a ride on the plane. As a matter of fact, he says, you can sit up front if you want. So we go out. I follow him out to his car and then we’re quickly followed by two other guys. It’s Larry Page and Sergey Brin, whom I’ve met before, and we say hello.
And I said, “Are you going out to L.A.?” And they said, “No, we’re just going out to see the plane ’cause we’re going to get planes.” So we all go out and see the plane. They run through the plane: “Isn’t this cool, isn’t this great? Can you do this? Can you do that?” And I suppose it’s exactly how I would react if I were in the position to buy a 767.
But then the mysterious billionaire started to ask them about their business. And we sat down in this luxurious area of this plane with the three teenaged girls (a different set of three teenaged girls not his daughters), who are sort of serving hors d’oeuvres.
So we were talking about the Google business. But Larry Page and Sergey Brin didn’t want to really talk about the Google business. They wanted to talk about another idea that they had. And the idea was — this is an appropriate pause — for Google underwear. And we spent the next hour sitting in this plane talking about the underwear business. We talked about Google boxers and Google briefs and the fortuitous circumstance that Google with the two ‘Os’ would make an incredible bra.
There it is. And the moral of this story is that this is the paradigm in the technology business: They will fuck it up. They will. There’s just no way that they cannot screw it up. “
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Interesting! Were you there?