Over the last six months, I have had the unique fortune of becoming a regular invitee to what is evolving as a Silicon Valley institution of sorts: Mirador Capital's technology roundtable dinners.
Now, there are technology discussions held all over the Bay Area every night of the week. Back in my early days as a bus dev guy and attorney, I think I ultimately attended just about all of them, handing out business cards in the hopes of drumming up clients. Every now and then, I would find myself at a Churchill Club table with a lively group of geeks and business people chatting about the digerati topic du jour, hopefully coming home with some new perspectives and insights.
However, the Mirador events really raise the entire notion of business roundtables to a new level. Every few weeks, Ken Hausman, Mirador's Managing Director, fills a private room at Spago or Jean Georges with fifteen or so luminaries from across technology. CXO level executives from companies such as Motorola, SONY, Nokia, Satyam, and Intel are joined by VCs from the likes of TeleSoft, Lightspeed, and Venrock. The groups are comprised of intelligent and influential technologists, each with a lot to say. Often, guests are lucky enough to be joined by the likes of Arvind Sodhani and George Sape, legends both in technology, and for their work with the James Beard Foundation.
First, he works with the head chefs at his chosen venues to craft a superbly exquisite menu of food found nowhere else. White truffles flown-in same day from Italy? Venison loin with cabrales foam? Foie gras with dried cherries and candied pistachios? Ken has you covered. However, while food of this caliber would traditionally carry the day, in the case of a Mirador roundtable, it merely serves as a stage for the true star of the evening - the wine.
Ken's wine dinners are simply unparalleled for anyone who doesn't chase vintages on a semi-professional basis. He will not blink at serving twenty-four different Richebourgs from across the ages presenting a once in a lifetime opportunity to compare very rare and expensive apples to apples. Other nights, its a nonstop parade of jewels like a '70 Ducru-Beaucaillou, or a '66 Grand Puy Lacoste each expertly paired with its appropriate course. Sure enough, on some special nights, Ken and his consultant sommeliers bring forth wines that most folks never get to sample once, let alone in a succession glass after glass. Treasures like an '82 Lafite Rothschild or an '82 Mouton Rothschild are frequently featured and stand powerfully on their own.
For me, there is nothing more delicious than a good conversation. Speaking from experience, I can attest that the foregoing is a formula for the most challenging, entertaining, and exhilarating exchanges in the world of technology. Take particularly knowledgeable and opinionated executives and investors, and lubricate their willingness to engage and debate with some of the finest wines and delectable cuisine around, and the result is a sheer treat to anyone fortunate enough to attend.