Friday, October 10, 2008

Fortune: The New Valley Girls

"The clock has just struck seven on a Thursday night, and Sheryl Sandberg is networking furiously. Not on Facebook, the site she joined in March as COO and where she boasts 1,114 "friends." No, she's doing it the old-fashioned way, in her Atherton, Calif., living room. She hosts her Silicon Valley soirees a few times a year, and it's always the A-list crowd. On this particular evening the group includes the new head of eBay North America, the manager of Google's ad-selling platforms, and well-known tech bankers and venture capitalists. It's a high-wattage, high-powered group. Oh, and there's one other thing: All those attending are women.

As the wine flows, the room starts to buzz. In one corner Lorna Borenstein, president of online real estate service Move, plays Yahoo alumni geography ("Where are they now?") with Caterina Fake, who co-founded Flickr and sold it to Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500). Author Sharon Meers, a former managing director at Goldman Sachs, talks up her new book about dual-earner couples (there's a plug from Sandberg on the back cover). Near the piano, Stephanie Tilenius, who could be eBay's CEO someday, is quizzing VCs about their latest deals. "We all rely on each other for advice and help each other out," Tilenius says.

These are the New Valley Girls. They are super-smart. Super-connected. And way too serious about their jobs and careers to endorse, much less embrace, that title. But the fact is, these women are vastly different from their predecessors who broke Silicon Valley's glass ceiling in the 1980s and '90s. Former CEOs Carly Fiorina of Hewlett-Packard and Meg Whitman of eBay hardly knew each other. "With us, it was heads down," says Whitman. She and Fiorina, who topped Fortune's Most Powerful Women list throughout the first eight years of its 11-year existence, didn't socialize with each other or much with other Valley stars. (Even now, as Whitman and Fiorina work to elect John McCain President, they know each other only "kinda sorta," Whitman says.)"

No comments: