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August 11, 2006

Partyweek part II: Open bar!

Grunderskolen SF'06

Unlike most Tuesdays, Arthur, Marthe and myself didn't have today off to study as our internship company Searchforce was having a booth at the annual Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose. In addition to us almost half the company (4 people) went with us so that we could pitch our product to visitors and maybe also locate some potential corporate partners. To "help out" during the conference the company had also hired a booth-babe, one Australian girl who was visiting the states to see her boyfriend. The conference was pretty fun with lots of interesting companies attending, plenty of more or less useful give-aways and even a few games as well, so even while I didn't go to any of the sessions I had a good time there. However that was nothing compared to what came next... and I'm not talking about this weeks lecture, which actually finished up around 6p.m after a volunteer group did their business plan presentation early for a bit of feedback from the group.

As with most conferences the business-focus during the daytime usually gives way to a few parties every night, and in this regard the SES San Jose was no different. What was different however is the scope and size of the party, for on the first night of the conference the search giant Google itself opens up their Googleplex corporate headquarters for the infamous Google Dance!
After we got back from this weeks lecture and got changed, Øystein was kind enough to drive us up to the Googleplex, and upon arrival a large group of Google-employees were standing around the entrance to cheer and clap
for everyone who arrived! After we got up the stairs and inside the 'plex we got our official GD t-shirts and over-21 wristbands, and then we entered the party! This years theme was chemistry, so everything was color coded in a periodic table of the elements sort of way. Wine and beer were available from a dozen stands around the area, along with plenty of food both from the indoors cafeteria and the bbq's outside. There were also plenty of candy and an ice-cream booth with all the toppings you could ever want, including melted caramel and hot chocolate fudge. YuM! In addition there were a bunch of activities like karaoke with your face in the video, the real-time Google searches screens, ask the engineers, get your photo in the Google logo, radio-cars, dunk-the-google-guy in water and of course their very own sand-volleyball course! No party without music of course, so naturally there were DJ's and music available in the cantina with a large dancefloor where fiber-optic lightsticks were handed out. All in all it was a blasting party with plenty of fun for everyone, and everything was free of course!
Most of the Searchforce people were present along with thousands of others from the conference, and we had just the best time eating, drinking and dancing until they started shutting down things around 11p.m. Sometime during the evening Tirill and Ida also showed up as they had snuck inside, but when it was time to leave Arthur and I got separated from the others and so decided to get a taxi back to Park Place by ourselves. However that was easier said than done, so I ended up hitching a ride with some Google employees instead while Arthur disappeared back inside. At Park Place I joined the remainder of the BBQ that was going on there as the people who are organizing our programme were visiting from the University of Oslo Centre for Entrepreneurship. There were not too many people still there, but it was a godd place to chill-out before heading to bed, after all we had to be back at the conference on Wednesday morning.

The second day at the SES conference featured mostly more of the same as the first, and at the end of the day I had gathered nearly two bag-fulls of freebies of various kinds, including several plush-animals, t-shirts, mugs, bottles, candies, pens by the dozen, various toys and even a compact 4port USB2.0 Hub. At around 4p.m the mess-hall was shutting down, and after cleaning out all of our promotional gear everyone headed home. I just cleaned up quickly before going to Starbucks were I met up to have a chat with Eytan, co-president of Bases, the Stanford entrepreneurial organization that once inspired the founding of Start NTNU in Trondheim, and then it was onwards to another party. Following up on the Google Dance on Tuesday, this night sported the San Jose Search Bash at Studio 8. However both Arthur and Marthe was too tired to go, so I went with Ida, Eivind and Gloria instead. Like at Google there was an open bar, this time including hard liquor!, and also hors d' oeuvres, strawberries and hot chocolate fudge in addition to a sumo-wrestling competition with large fat-suits. While beeing more of a regular party in an ordinary club, it was still pretty awesome and we kept at it till at least 4a.m when it was about time to taxi home.. after all we still had to go to work in the morning.

Then while at work I got an invitation from some norwegian guy I found on LinkedIn to join him at the Norwegian Club that same night, so I promptly forwarded it to a few others and made plans to go. According to the invitation it was a gentleman's club, so after leaving early from work I met up with Øystein, Bjørnar, Ivar and Ian and we headed downtown to something we knew nothing about. The guy, Petter, was a former student at the Norwegian School of Entrepreneurship, and was currently working with a venture capital firm on a deal to build the next generation heavy-lifting rockets for NASA, an awesome coincidence as I really want to work in the space sector sometime! He turned out to be a great guy, and so did the historical Norwegian Club which was founded as early as 1898. Its current goal is to promote fellowship in the Norwegian-American community in the Bay Area, and to do this they hold weekly gentleman events. The invitation and a small fee bought us a 3-course dinner and access to the open bar, as well as several new friends and acquaintances as we socialized throughout the evening in what is a weekly event for members and invited friends. After a while when it came time to close down we headed down to Fillmore street to do a little bit of bar-hopping with Petter, but as all of us were getting very tired and also had work today, we ended up driving back to Mountain View to get some sleep instead of staying out late, but with more than an hours drive home we still couldn't call it a night until 3a.m or thereabouts...

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