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NEW YORK “I haven't had a Big Mac in two years, and it's awesome!” exclaimed one guest at Venture Reporter's party at the McDonald's on 10th Avenue and 34th Street. The eventdubbed the Back to Reality partymade a pointed reference to the “new reality” of dead dot-coms and the sober state of the venture capital industry, offering guests Big Macs and milkshakes instead of foie gras and Dom Perignon that was the norm of Silicon Alley parties in the late 90s. Held to celebrate the magazine's Venture Reporter 100 issuewhich lists a who's who of the most active venture firms in the countrythe event buzzed with chatty entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, bankers and the like, who busily networked while downing beer, cocktails and champagne with their burgers and McNuggets.
Securing the venue was the biggest challenge. “It was tough,” said Rising Tide Studios (Venture Reporter's parent company) event producer Jamie Calacanis. “It took a lot of coaxing and convincing McDonald's management that we were on the up-and-up.” Once the venue was secured, Calacanis took a no-fuss approach to the decor. A plastic white fence from Emerald Convention Services was erected around the restaurant's parking lot, and balloons from Balloon Saloon were tied to the fencing and inside on the restaurant's low walls that snaked through the second floor.
Downstairs, guests ordered straight from McDonald's menu, and their food was made-to-order by the huge staff that bustled behind the counter. Most guests opted for the burgers, Chicken McNuggets and soda, and several also tasted the event's special fruity cocktails with names like the McBlodget (after former Merrill Lynch analyst Henry Blodget), the McKozmo and the McPets.com. The event even had an element of self-deprecating humor: Those companies on the cocktail list were among the dot-coms that the magazine covered in its former incarnation, the Silicon Alley Reporter. Despite the fun drinks, most male guestsand it was mostly male guestsopted for beer from Brooklyn Brewery.
The bubbly and burgers formula was ultimately a success with guests. “You can still be classy, but know the value of a dollar,” said Jason McCabe Calacanis, CEO of Rising Tide and editor in chief of Venture Reporter. “You can have just a much fun with a Big Mac and fries as with sushi and caviar.”
Read our coverage of Silicon Alley 2001...