‘You can Google Checkout any time you like, but you can never leave...’
Bringing Nothing To The Party: Revenge of the Nerds, with roasting
Book extract In our second extract of Bringing Nothing To The Party, entrepreneurial chancer Paul Carr finds himself enviably ensconced in a swanky Hertfordshire hotel at the pleasure of Google. But will he make it out alive?
The trouble started with one of those emails that you assume must be the result of an administrative error.
I’m writing from Google Europe ’06. We’re hosting an event later this year called ‘Zeitgeist’, bringing together some of the top thinkers in the Internet industry to discuss trends...
...Speakers include David Cameron, Peter Gabriel, Martin Sorrell ... and Google CEO Eric Schmidt...
I wondered whether you might be interested in either speaking at the event or joining a panel...
It must be a mistake. Why on earth would Google possibly invite me to contribute to an event like that? A former newspaper journalist whose only success to date was bringing together web and print. And they wanted to put me on the same bill as those guys? It just didn’t make any sense.
But at the same time, it sort of did.
A few months earlier, Google had launched a bold initiative to scan the world’s books and to make them searchable online, in the same way as they make websites searchable now. The plan had caused all kinds of outcry from traditional publishers, who claimed that by scanning books the search engine giant was breaching their copyright.
Evidently my experience in the middle of this strange internet and book publishing Venn diagram qualified me to be a speaker at this super-exclusive conference, hosted by the world’s biggest search engine. They were offering to put me up in the country house hotel that was hosting the two-day event. They would even give me a spare ticket for the second day of the event to allow me to bring along a friend. How could I resist?
Annoyingly, a couple of weeks before the event I got a second email. Due to scheduling issues, the email explained, there wasn’t going to be any room on the schedule for me to speak after all. Clearly Google had either found someone who was actually qualified to address such an illustrious audience or they’d realised that they’d invited the wrong person in the first place. My money was on the latter, but – the email went on – to make up for it they’d still be delighted to have me as their guest for the event, and I could still stay in a nice hotel. Although, now that I wasn’t a speaker, I would have to slum it in the hotel down the road with the other attendees – the CEOs of companies who advertised on Google and various other internet bosses. That suited me just fine. Five-star or four, a free shower cap is a free shower cap.
The event was to be hosted at the Grove hotel and spa in Hertfordshire, a venue so exclusive that the hotel’s website offers instructions for arriving by car, train, helicopter and boat (‘by boat: allow eight hours from London’s Regent’s Park’). I opted for the train and then took a minicab from the station.
"I’ll get as close as I can but it’s a bloody circus up there," said the cab driver when I told him where I was going. "What with all the TV cameras camped out."
"Really?" I asked. "TV cameras?" God, this must be an even bigger event than I thought.
you must be number 2... and just because you are paranoid - it doesn't mean that they aren't trying to kill you. Sorry - no penny farthing, will a round smiley face do?
This reads almost like it could be a plot-line from BOFH! Perhaps inspiration for one of the upcoming ones eh?
Pretty lame if you ask me...
I'm sorry, but lets look at the facts...
1) You failed to close the deal on "Emma".
2) You got Google and some Aussie peeved at a joke that went over their heads.
3) You should have thought about a more convincing line before the "they're going to kill us".
4) You forgot the first rule of the "spy game". You get the girl and everyone around you to get drunk while you stay relatively sober. This way, you keep a clear head about you so you can take advantage of the situation.
Oh and in hindsight, you could have diffused the situation by asking the "Californian" if he knew the song "Hotel California". If he said no, then tell him he needs to do a penalty shot and to go google the lyrics up on the 'net. Tell him to look for the verse "You can always check out but you can never leave." Tell him that you're having a swell time as such a swank place, and that you feel like you're staying at the hotel California. Then tell him he needs a second penalty shot for interrupting your conversation with "Emma".
Then you could have gone back to "Emma" had your conversation, and maybe closed the deal.
C'mon man! Where's your game!