Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

D Wrap-Up: The Not-Bill-and-Steve Edition

We hope you’ve enjoyed our show. Walt and I certainly did, and I think we both felt it was our best D thus far.

And that’s without what was clearly the blockbuster joint interview with Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Steve Jobs of Apple, which got a mountain of attention, as it deserves for both its historic implications (the two icons of tech in a rare analog appearance together) and its sheer drama (PC guy meets Mac guy, except in real life!).

gates/jobs2

While it was not the WrestleMania some would have preferred, I thought it was riveting to see two people with very little left to prove about anything in their professional careers and who will be in the history books willing to go out on a bit of a limb and talk from a more personal place.

In addition, watching these longtime rivals and also collaborators kibitz about their tech-war stories, each correcting the other’s memories, was really interesting. Here is a great comic strip from the Joy of Tech Web site about the interview that says it all.

But outside of the glare of the pairing, there were a lot of highlights and insights I gleaned from the other onstage interviews.

1. THE MSM FINALLY GETS IT: One of the things that struck me was how comfortable and easygoing all the traditional media executives interviewed were. CBS’s Les Moonves, Peter Chernin of News Corp., Ann Moore of Time Inc. and even suing-Google-for-a-billion Philippe Dauman of Viacom all seemed less fearful of the Web than ready and eager to use it for their benefit.

moonvescherninmooredauman

Of course, there are copyright issues for all, which was articulately explained by Dauman (who came off as reasonable in his case against Google’s YouTube), but all seemed to understand the need to find new business models and new distribution methods for their content.

They also had the funniest videos–here is Moore’s faux Geico ad with actor Mario Cantone and Viacom’s genius Stephen Colbert monologue.

2. DANCING WITH THE TECH STARS: On the flip side of that, both Google’s Eric Schmidt and YouTube’s Chad Hurley and Steve Chen need to at least be a bit more respectful in public about other peoples’ work and rights. It cannot and will not be, as much as I love the idea of empowerment of the consumer, just the “community” that decides what is OK to post.

schmidtchen/hurley

And, as smart as they might be, it’s hard to rely simply on their assurances that their brainiac engineers will come up with a way soon to stop copyright theft. This is a delicate dance that Google must pull off without two left–and arrogant–feet.

Still, YouTube’s intro video was very sweet, especially Chen and Hurley scarfing donuts.

3. GEORGE LUCAS IS NOT SHY: While the legendary filmmaker has always been known as shy, Lucas had not even dropped his bags on the floor of the hotel lobby before he was deep in conversation and debate about the digital sector with a plethora of folks gathered round.

And he did not mind being pugnacious either, telling YouTube’s Hurley and Chen that they should endow a film school to make up for all the crappy video they had unleashed on the world.

lucas/chen/hurley

Onstage, Lucas, no lover of Hollywood’s machinations either, gave a great label to some video on the Web, which he called “circus,” or, better still, “throwing puppies on a highway,” compared to “art” that endures.

4. SEN. JOHN MCCAIN IS ALSO NOT SHY: About sticking to his guns, so to speak, related to his stance to continue fighting in Iraq and also about the risks posed by the spread, if we withdraw too early, of Islamic Jihadism.

mccain/chambers/ballmercasesimonyi

But Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer and Cisco’s John Chambers do look the part of cabinet members here. What about Steve Case, whose new businesses center around health, as surgeon general? Or Charles Simonyi, former Microsoft exec and recent space traveler, for head of NASA?

But, whatever your view about the war, I think we can all respectfully disagree with Sen. McCain’s contention that cellphone service in the U.S. is top-notch. Clearly, he has never been to the black hole of mobile coverage near Silicon Valley’s Sand Hill Road lately.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work