Today's Reading

He was entitled to a plush office, which he generously allowed other teams to book as a meeting room or getaway space, because it was so often empty. Scott liked microbrewed beer, and his grateful coworkers often brought by a bottle of something they'd taken home from a brewpub or made in their garage, and they'd put it in his grocery-store-style glass-door refrigerator with a post-it of thanks and tasting notes.

Scott was part of an executive committee that was supposed to evaluate possible acquisition targets, companies like InterPoly. The only times Scott came close to quitting Yahoo! and forfeiting his $20 mil were when a really promising start-up came through the door. The combination of a smart founder and a great product made Scott pine for all the time he was wasting. Even worse was his dreadful knowledge that if he gave an honest assessment of the start-up he'd just heard pitched, he'd trap some other naïf like him in the Yahoo! quicksand.

He had a good nose for this stuff, and he'd use the preliminary documents to schedule his long weekends, making sure he was in town and present only for meetings where they were hearing from stupid companies making stupid products. He found it physically painful to sit through their pitches without tongue-flaying their founders. But at least he could honestly sit down with the rest of the committee afterward and recommend that the company stay the hell away from the wretched start-ups they'd heard from that day. Generally, the committee would all agree with him.

The sole exception was CabCandi, a start-up that wanted to fill taxi drivers' trunks with candy and use a web-based dispatch to turn major metros' cabdrivers into a circulating snack-delivery service for hungry stoners. Scott correctly pointed out that this was a profoundly stupid idea. The other committee members pointed out that CabCandi had much better fundamentals than its rivals, the successors to Kozmo.com. Scott replied that Kozmo had collapsed and the post-Kozmo stoner-snack dot-coms would do no better. The committee overrode his objections and offered a term sheet to CabCandi, $7 million on $12 million, pre-money. But they were outbid by Battery Ventures, who offered $9 on $14.

After CabCandi, Scott decided to use one of his sick days and go to Avalon, and he invited me down for the long weekend.

"Fly into Long Beach, Marty, and we'll chopper over." He was deliberately breezy, clearly wanting to impress me. I'd been in helicopters. They're noisy. But Scott was as eager as a puppy and he just wanted me to have a good time.

"It's a date," I said. "Let me check Expedia for flights from Oakland."

"Southwest is your best bet. They're not on Expedia, and they've got a website that doesn't suck."

It didn't suck, which was quite an accomplishment for an airline, to be frank. I caught the 5:15 and we touched down in Long Beach at 6:07, four minutes ahead of schedule. Scott met me at the baggage carousel, bouncing on his toes with excitement.

"Marty Fuckin' Hench!" He grabbed me in a big hug. He was still ninety-eight pounds soaking wet, tall and bony. He'd gotten rid of his ponytail and gotten a millionaire's haircut, something that transformed his cheekbones and prominent teeth from skull-like to aquiline, and he'd replaced his crooked wire-rim glasses with a pair of aviators with clear lenses, which was a statement, though I couldn't tell you what it was trying to say.

He released me from the hug. "Scott Fucking Warms," I replied. "You're looking good." Sky-blue Hugo Boss blazer with turned-up cuffs, striped shiny lining, and orange satin accents at the slash pockets; obligatory Japanese denim as stiff as cardboard; some kind of designer sandals that looked like something Salvador Dalí would put on Jesus' feet.

"I'm so, so, so glad you came, buddy. Catalina is crazy, like nowhere I've been before. They've got bison. Oh, here are the bags!" There'd only been eight people on my flight, and only four bags spilled onto the belt. I grabbed for mine, but Scott got it before me and shot the handle. "Come on!" He took off for the private airfield.

I followed him out the door and into the cool, sea-scented Long Beach night, across a couple of crosswalks and then up to a gate where a private security guard checked his ID and mine against a list on his screen.
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