James B. Stewart's long New Yorker article on the Hewlettt-Packard board-surveillance scandal is, of course, not online. However, you deserve least one juicy nugget: the contretemps between spymistress HP chairman Patricia Dunn and powerful board member Tom Perkins regarding Perkins's "novel" Sex and the Single Zillionaire — now in paperback, and originally from the now-defunct Regan Books, the folks who wanted to bring you OJ Simpson's If I Did It. After the jump, Perkins and Dunn rassle over whether or not all HP employees should be forced to read his literary fapfest.
Meanwhile, Perkins had finished his novel, "Sex and the Single Zillionaire" — the first draft had taken him ten days — and it was about to be published, by ReganBooks. Perkins told Dunn that it should be required reading for Hewlett-Packard employees. He says that he meant this as a joke, but that she took him seriously. Dunn told me, "I thought we shouldn't be flogging a director's book."
"Employees will love it!" Perkins argued.
"I don't think it's appropriate."
"That's ridiculous. All the royalties are going to Harvard."
Dunn says Perkins wanted to autograph books in the company cafeteria. (Perkins denies this.)
One scene in the book describes two women in a bedroom:
Heather was nude upon the bed and Kim, above her, was also nude, but wearing some sort of complicated black leather harness. Through numerous buckles and D-rings, the straps crossed her shoulders, spanned her full breasts, encircled her waist, and passed between her legs to rise again over her firm buttocks to rejoin the other straps at the waist. She held a long, black whip in her right hand. It had a leather handle, and numerous strands whirling in the air as she manipulated it over the prone girl on the bed. Heather's body was glistening with perspiration as she moaned in anticipation of the whiplash, which seemed always to be withheld.
The book caused further rancor between Perkins and Dunn at the January, 2006, retreat. By then, he had given an advance galley to Dunn, and, during cocktails with Hewlett-Packard managers and their spouses, Dunn recalled, Perkins asked her, "Pattie, what do you think of my book?"
"I haven't read it yet," she said evasively.
"Surely you've read enough to have some opinion."
"I skimmed it," she said — fibbing — and finally added, "It's just not my style."
Twenty minutes later, Perkins pulled her aside. According to Dunn, he said, "Don't ever humiliate me in front of managers and board members. You should have just said you liked it."
That's what Tom tells all the ladies. When they're not moaning in anticipation of the lash.