Allen & Company is doing its annual thing in Sun Valley, Idaho, in which old moguls shamelessly ogle the most supple young internet startups. This year, everyone's drooling over Twitter. Last year's trophy companies? Not looking so sexy.
It's a tough world for a flirty company on the make. In summer 2008, media honchos like Barry Diller and Jeffrey Katzenberg were making eyes at social networking companies like Slide, the well-funded maker of Facebook applications started by PayPal founder Max Levchin. Just in time for this year's conference, Slide is laying people off and scrapping its failed business model.
Levchin got cozy with Diller last year, but Twitter is playing hard to get: CEO Evan Williams "attended Wednesday's sessions, but didn't speak up when other executives expressed doubts about Twitter's revenue prospects," according to the New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin, who adds that both Diller and cable honcho John Malone (pictured together) disparaged Twitter's advertising prospects.
They doth protest too much: Any firm that can reunite those bitter ex-partners (and former courtroom nemeses) is clearly a stimulating concern.