In late 2010, I got an email from Becky Draper, a friend and Bill’s daughter, to organize a Luncheon Society to support her father’s book. Besides being the founding rock upon which Silicon Valley was built, he and Pitch Johnson made those early investments in the valley back in the day when what a VC actually did had to be explained to emerging entrepreneurs. Of course, we quickly said yes.
Draper’s father was a banker at Dillon Reed, an army officer, and diplomat. During the Berlin Airlift, the senior Draper worked with General Lucius Clay, who organized the rescue of the city after it had been cut off by the Soviets. The younger Draper was there too, as an attaché to his father.
After the war and a job at Inland Steel, he and Pitch Johnson headed west to make their fortunes. Those thoughts and other are found in his new book, The Startup Game, and it is a book that has been well-received in many quarters. The majority of those around the table were in the starting phases of their own entrepreneurial efforts.
Since the Fortune.com “q and a” piece by Dan Primack captured so much of the conversation, I just decided to rerun his piece. Continue reading →
Richard Wolffe and Jonathan Alter have put together the best historical first draft of the Obama Presidential Campaign and the first two years of the Presidency. Richard Wolffe wrote Renegade, the inside story of the rise of Barack Obama and his campaign as it emerged from the doldrums of 2007 to the early caucuses and primaries into the Denver Convention in 2008. The Promise, by Jonathan Alter, follows the Obama White House through the early days of the Obama White House, including the challenges of building out an endgame of Afghanistan and dealing with some of the conflicting personalities on his economic team. In the third book in the troika, Richard Wolffe returns with Revival, which expands the thematics of his first book and parachutes them right into the healthcare debate.
Richard Wolffe has joined The Luncheon Society on three occasions (most recently last December 2010 in Los Angeles) and Jonathan Alter has joined us twice, both times in Manhattan.
A great story before we begin. Steve Schlesinger, the son of Arthur Schlesinger Jr, a former speechwriter for Mario Cuomo and the Director of the World Policy Institute at the New School University reflected on the irony that during the 1980’s his father’s next door neighbor was non-other than Richard Nixon, the bete noire of the Kennedy Administration. His younger brother Robert would look over the back fence only to be shooed away by the Secret Service and when Nixon sat out in the backyard, it was often in full suit and tie.
To get a detailed breakout of the gathering we had in Los Angeles with Richard Wolffe, here are the notes from that gathering. Revival came out as the profile of the Administration was battered from the midterms, but between the release and that December dinner, Barack Obama made the best use of the Lame Duck session and compiled the best legislative record since Lyndon Johnson’s first full term. Continue reading →