In the tech community, Las Vegas has somewhat of a bad rap. Sin City, after all, is home to so many large-scale industry trade shows (case in point: CES) that just mentioning the name is bound to induce a headache, and not in the I-got-plastered-and-lost-all-my-money sense.
The guys at Thrillist, the e-mail newsletter for 20- and 30-something dudes, may have changed that a bit. To celebrate their recent launch of a Vegas-centric newsletter (joining New York, Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and soon Miami), as well as the fact that trendy airline JetBlue is one of their biggest sponsors, founders Ben Lerer and Adam Rich opted to fill up a party plane and let loose 150 New York digital folk into the land of casinos and showgirls. (Disclaimer: It wasn't a "press trip," per se, but I opted to pay for my ticket.)
Clearly, online ad recessions weren't anywhere on the radar--but in opting for heavy sponsorships rather than straight-up paying for everything, Thrillist was likely cutting some costs.
So what went down? Well, when you've got a crowd that includes representatives from Gawker, the Huffington Post, Coolhunting, the Onion, and a dozen dot-com start-ups, some scandal is bound to surface. Here's the G-rated version.
JUICIEST NEWS: Insiders tell us that Bob Pittman, the MTV co-founder and former AOL exec whose Pilot Group investment firm has a big stake in Thrillist, has a fun new project in the works. The media veteran is working on launching his own tequila label, thus putting him in the league of Jimmy Buffett. Guess that means Pilot Group's portfolio brands, which also include DailyCandy, Spongecell, and (to a lesser extent) Buzznet, won't need to hunt for liquor sponsors for their parties much longer.
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Videoblogging Star magazine columnist and rumored reality-show-star-to-be Julia Allison didn't bring her ubiquitous dog, Lilly, along for the trip. (But Lilly didn't stray too far from New York media-land: the white Shih Tzu was in the care of Fimoculous blogger Rex Sorgatz.)
BEST STYLE: Gawker Media producer and new-media boy-about-town Richard Blakeley showed up for Friday night's parties in a white suit that was one part Tom Wolfe, one part Colonel Sanders, and one part Pillsbury Doughboy. He then jumped into the pool and seemed to be having a blast until management asked him not to swim with clothes on.
It was the second time this year that Blakeley had been unceremoniously dismissed from a Vegas venue. Remember, he's been banned for life from CES.
BEST SPONSORSHIP: Like any good dot-com party, there were plenty of sponsors. But the one people will probably be remembering is over-the-counter mainstay Alka-Seltzer, which provided guests with ample quantities of its new "Wake-Up Call" hangover remedy.