Goldman Tech Conference: TSC Is Shown the Door
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- So much for the free flow of information.
Oh well. At least I got a margarita out of it before they banned me for good.
Why I Went
When I decided last month to attend the gathering, which is being held at the La Quinta Resort & Club, it seemed like a no-brainer. The five-day conference promised speeches from Hewlett-Packard (HWP) CEO Carly Fiorina, Dell (DELL) CEO Michael Dell, Sun Microsystems (SUNW) CEO Ed Zander and newly crowned Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer. East Coast money managers told me they were looking forward to hearing from companies ranging from Ariba (ARBA) to WebVan (WEBV).So I quickly began making bookings and arranging executive interviews. But a week later I got a shock: Goldman told me the only media allowed would be from print outfits such as USA Today, The Financial Times, Fortune and The Industry Standard. Cable TV's CNBC has been here, too. Now, there are some brokerage firms that almost never allow reporters to attend conferences. But usually, when firms open the floodgates to the Fourth Estate, they let everyone in. It seems as if Goldman didn't want online journalists posting conference information immediately, before even the firm's clients had received the information via Goldman analyst reports and conference summary calls. I thought I might try to reach an informal agreement with Goldman to delay my filing times, as news organizations sometimes do, but a Goldman rep just didn't think that would work. Finally, under the advice of my editors, I decided to go anyway.
First NightThe conference began Monday with speeches from Intel's (INTC) Paul Otellini and the aforementioned Michael Dell. No one seemed to notice (or care) when I ventured inside to attend a few company presentations. So that's what I did between my interviews, which were arranged to take place in another part of the expansive (and lush) La Quinta. But when my
The Morning AfterTuesday morning I was told by a Goldman official that the firm's policy wouldn't change: Online reporters still wouldn't be allowed to attend the conference. I did a couple of interviews -- one with Quantum (DSS) CFO Rick Clemmer and one with a money manager -- and ventured into the Red Hat (RHAT) presentation, which was finishing up. I know, I was barred, but I felt that if a USA Today reporter was in there, a TheStreet.com reporter should be inside as well. As I was leaving the conference area, a Goldman official approached. She said: "Don't push me. If we catch you again in one of these presentations I will not hesitate to take this to the top
What Clients Want"We had made an official determination that online and wire service reporters would not be allowed to attend the conference," says Kate Baum, Goldman's vice president of public relations. "We may decide next year to allow all reporters in, or we may decide not to let anyone in -- it's up to what our clients want." As I was leaving the grounds Tuesday I looked into the press room. Empty, except for a Bloomberg reporter who said she also had been banned from the presentations. I then took a peek at the Goldman conference registration desk and noticed that the Financial Times reporter hadn't shown up. If only that reporter knew how hard it was to get an invitation.
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