If you weren’t at the Hiller Air Museum last week for Draper Fisher Jurvetson’s Schmoozefest 2006, you missed out on the 16-piece orchestra, a crooning Tim Draper, Sky High blue cocktails and Steve Jurvetson’s effervescent description of his soon-to-be-made Tesla roadster.
The party motif was avionic and the DFJ team ignored no detail. Stewardesses dressed in blue, one-piece mini-skirts passed out DFJ-branded honey roasted peanuts and DFJ lapel wings at the door. Inside, executives, entrepreneurs and VCs milled around antique airplanes, suspended from the ceiling. DFJ startups set up booths across two rooms, hawking their innovation as high-power projectors sent pictures of airplanes and helicopters swirling around the ceiling.
The party sprawled outside the Hiller and into tents around the back. There, the Black Tie Jazz Orchestra set up in front of a dance floor. Buffets flanked the floor, spread with sushi, pizza, pot-stickers, and a variety of other, more high-end hors d’oeuvres.
Bartenders set up their stations in half a dozen locations, offering wine, beer, and the Sky High cocktail, a concoction of Seagram’s Extra Smooth Vodka, Blue Curacao, and sweet and sours mix, strained through an ice sculpture and served up with a maraschino cherry and an orange slice.
In the back-most tent of the party, representatives from micro-jet maker Eclipse stood next to a display version of their airplane, which retails at $1.5 million and costs about $1 per mile to operate. The mock-up plane had no wings, a fact that made some attendees wary. One reveler quipped that wings cost extra.
But the person jet plane was overshadowed by the black Tesla Motors roadster parked nearby. Jurvetson seemed to orbit the electric car all night. He told PE Week he was in line for the 12th car that comes off the production line. He’s aiming for a red one, with a tan interior. It’ll be the first red car he’s ever owned, he says.
Later in the evening, the Black Tie Jazz Orchestra gave way to a rock band, with David Cremin, the managing director of DFJ Frontier on guitar. and DFJ General Partner Warren Packard on drums. The crowd gathered around as Draper hinself took the stage, mike in hand. The band went into its rendition of “The Risk Master,” a song written by Don Henley with lyrics by Draper himself. Draper cooed as woman cheere and waved their arms:
He is the Riskmaster
Lives fast drives faster
Skates on the edge of disaster
He is the Riskmaster.
You wouldn’t know it from the party, but DFJ is having a tough year. The affiliate program it pioneered is starting to show cracks as Draper Atlantic Ventures and DFJ New England split off to form their own firm, opting to drop the Draper/DFJ prefix. Earlier this year DFJ ePlanet Ventures, the fund responsible for wins such as Skype, Baidu and Focus Media, split off to pursue its own path: a $550 million fund with no ties to DFJ.
Add that to the firm’s snail’s pace fund-raising for its $250 million growth fund and one has to wonder if LPs are reacting to DFJ spreading itself too thin.
But the firm has had a good year for exits, selling seven of its portfolio companies so far this year according to Thomson Financial, publisher of (PE Week).