When I mentioned that Betty White had more than 225,000 some-odd Facebook likes and is considered a social media star, which reportedly led to a hilarious Saturday Night Live episode and Snickers ads, she dismissed it all.
"Betty is 91. I'm 79. I'm too young for all that," she said. "I am touring with The Music Man with my son Patrick in 2014. TV is not the business it used to be. When it's live, it's better."
I asked her about which mobile devices she preferred, or what's better -- an iPhone or a Google (GOOG) Android -- and she responded they all pretty much do the same thing. Which is true. We talked about the Amazon (AMZN) Kindle or other e-readers, which did not impress her either.
"They are nice enough, I suppose," she said. "But I read real books. At night in a real bed."She said that the horror stories she likes are better in book form than they are on screens. "I have all the Stephen King books. That's my idea of a nice night out." The Jones IPO?
The more she and I talked, the louder we got, the more other journalists wandered over. Among them, a young two-person video crew from the International Business Times, a global Web outlet with offices in New York. Nicholas Deel, the technical editor there, and I got talking about valuation. That was when he broached the elephant in the room: Namely, what would be a better investment over time? The brand value of a midlevel star such as Ms. Jones or any one of the gadgets in this room? Say, a Samsung Galaxy, BlackBerry or Dish TV (DISH)? "You mean long term?" he said. "What would be a better bet?" Deel looked me. Looked at Ms. Jones. Looked at the room full of electronics. And without missing a beat said, "Jones. For sure." At which point, she smiled, finished her martini, got up and quietly disappeared behind the fake TV set she was sitting in front of. And suddenly, there we all were, back in an empty room full of electronics that over time will be worth nothing at all. If only we could figure out how to take Shirley Jones public, we all could make some real money in this market.
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