Two of the year’s most exclusive, high-powered dinners in Silicon Valley take place this month, and there is one figure – but only one – who is central to both: Sheryl Sandberg.
You may have heard about one of the events – it’s the fundraiser that Sheryl Sandberg and husband Dave Goldberg are hosting on September 25, 2011 at their Atherton home (at $35,800 per person.) As Facebook’s COO, and with connections just as powerful in Washington as in Silicon Valley, it’s hard to imagine a better host for the President when raising funds in the Bay Area. She didn’t get to be named, by Forbes, as the 5th most powerful woman in the world for nothing (behind only Indra Nooyi, of PepsiCo, and Hillary Clinton in the United States.)
But the other dinner already occurred (September 12th, 2011), was not publicized in advance, and media were not allowed. It was The Moet Hennessy & Financial Times Club Dinner, now in its second year in San Francisco. As regular readers of San Francisco Luxury Living will recall, the first annual dinner was held at Quince, and featured Carol Bartz, then the CEO of Yahoo, as the honored speaker.
This year, it was held at Michael Mina (252 California St), and was the first time in Michael Mina’s history that the restaurant was closed for a private event during a weekday. Chef Michael Mina prepared the meal himself, which was paired with Moet & Chandon’s rare estate and vintage wines, Nectar Imperial champagne, Hennessy X.O cognac, and the rare 18 year old Glenmorangie Single Malt.
The by invitation-only dinner, hosted by John Ridding, the CEO of Financial Times, and Jim Clerkin, the CEO of Moet Hennessy US, occurred after the first day of TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, the influential tech conference which draws almost every important person in the industry.
A few of last year’s guests attended again (Ron Conway, Trevor Traina, Roger and Sloan Barnett, Gavin Newsom), joined by some new faces: Zachary Bogue, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Founders Den (minus wife Marissa Mayer, who attended last year), Brian Chesky, the Co-Founder and CEO of the sizzling new site Airbnb; Richard Costolo, the CEO of Twitter; Max Levchin, the Founder and CEO of Slide Inc.; Dick Kramlich, the Co-founder of NEA; Frank Quattrone, the Founder and CEO of Qatalyst Group; Heidi Roizen, the Founder of SkinnySongs; Jon Rubinstein the Senior Vice President for Product Innovation at Hewlett-Packard, among others.
Jonathan Kaplan, of The Melt, with Jim Clerkin, and Gavin Newsom. Gavin, incidentally, recently gave an interesting interview about why he prefers Silicon Valley over the State Capital. Newsom is actually one of the tenants in Zachary Bogue’s Founder’s Den when he’s working in San Francisco.
Just a few hours earlier in the day, Max Levchin appeared on stage with Peter Thiel at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference to speak about the forthcoming book he co-authored with Garry Kasparov and Thiel. Entitled “The Blueprint: Reviving Innovation, Rediscovering Risk, and Rescuing the Free Market,” it’s not coming out until February 2012, but is already getting a lot of buzz for boldly arguing that we are not living in an age of technological progress, as “we have become a risk-averse society, hobbled by tort laws and government regulations, short-term financial thinking, and mind-numbing complacency.”
The after dinner speech took the form of a candid conversation between Sheryl Sandberg and Gillian Tett, US Managing Editor of the Financial Times.