Before I hustled the four pitchmen on and off the stage at the Stirr event last night, Sun's Scott McNealy got up on stage and ran down his advice for entrepreneurs. Most of it was standard book-of-Scott stuff, including this peculiar bit of advice (#5): Manage through slogans.
McNealy also reiterated Sun CTO Greg Papadopoulos' statement that, "the world needs only five computers." Loosely interpreted, that is: Google, in McNealy's mind, is one really big grid-based computer. The PC on your desk? Your phone? Your kid's game console? Not worthy of being called computers.
Still, Sun was giving away servers to nongiant Web service companies at the Stirr event. One was earmarked for the best pitch from the four presenting companies, as determined by an applause meter. The honor went to Confabb CEO Salim Ismail, who cheated by promising to buy all the drinks at the next Stirr event if he won. The audience sure liked that value proposition, and he pegged the meter. But when he came up to accept the award, he said he'd buy the drinks, "once we get funding." What? Boos ensued, and one person shouted out one of McNealy's startup maxims (#4), "Don't cheat!" The rumor that Confabb was going to announce an acquisition at the Stirr event also turned out to be wrong. After Ismail's waffle on stage, one can understand how someone might interpret his words quite the wrong way.
I still think Confabb is a cool service. Salim needs to shoot a bit more straight, though.
If you want to be like Scott McNealy, by the way, here are his six maxims:
#1: Keep your eye on the ball.
#2: Hire smart people who get along with each other.
#3: Your business has "got to be controversial," otherwise everybody will do the same thing you do.
#4: Don't cheat (even if nobody's looking).
#5: Manage through slogans.
#6: Love your job.
Got that? More Stirr start-ups, plus a cyborg, in an upcoming post.