[IWAR] THREAT Gates examples scares execs

From: 7Pillars Partners (partnersat_private)
Date: Fri Feb 06 1998 - 09:47:37 PST

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    Friday Febuary 6 7:51 AM PST 
    Pie attack has executives worried 
    By Charles Cooper 
    This time it was a custard pie in the face. Could it just have easily been a
    bullet in the gut? 
    That is the subject du jour among startled industry executives following the
    bizarre assault in Brussels Wednesday against Bill
    Gates. While en route to deliver a speech on technology and education,
    Microsoft's chief executive was nailed in the kisser
    by a local prankster who has made a reputation for pulling similar stunts.
    Gates, who was unhurt, suffered no more than a
    wound to his pride, soggy glasses, and an unexpected charge on his weekly
    cleaning bill. 
    The incident recalled former Apple CEO John Sculley's near kidnap as he was
    jogging near his California home, as
    recounted in his autobiography. And Adobe Systems co-founder Charles Geschke
    was abducted and held for ransom in
    1992. That case -- Geschke was subsequently rescued unharmed -- focused into
    sharp relief the dilemma of celebrity and
    wealth in a media-linked planet and the attendant security risks encountered by
    the rich and the famous. 
    The early word out of Microsoft (MSFT) is that its globe-trotting chief does
    not plan to rein in his hectic "if this is Tuesday, it
    must be Belgium" pace. 
    "One of the things Bill enjoys most is going out to our [subsidiaries], meeting
    customers overseas, doing speeches etc.," said
    company spokeswoman Mich Mathews. "His schedule remains as busy as ever. I look
    on this as an isolated incident. This
    guy does 'pie attacks' as a career. He targets public figures and then makes
    money selling the footage to the media." 
    Yet Gates' emergence as one of the most recognized people in the world also
    raises security concerns that were not so
    paramount when Silicon Valley was in its infancy. Executives say that the
    increasingly central importance of information
    technology to the economy has also elevated them into public roles as media
    celebrities -- sometimes uncomfortably so. 
    Kahn on Gates 
    "There's nothing special about what we do. You pay with your celebrity," said
    Philippe Kahn, the CEO at Starfish Software,
    who was a highly visible executive in the 1980s and early 1990s when he ran
    Borland International Inc. "Unfortunately, Bill is
    one of best known figures of the world. and unfortunately, this goes with the
    territory. It's outrageous and terrible and I hope
    [the Belgian authorities] do something about it to set an example." 
    Since leaving Borland, Kahn has maintained a low profile. However, his Borland
    legacy endures and it's not unusual for
    people to recognize him when he ventures out in public. 
    "Nothing irritates me more than being in a restaurant where people recognize me
    and want to start a conversation," Kahn
    said. " I hate that. I hate that. Because I'm a family person with four kids
    and that's the last thing I want. So I can't imagine
    what I'd feel like in Gates' position with someone attacking you. I'd quit.
    Life's too short. Why would you want that?" 
    "It's an interesting problem," said Rosanne Siino, the director of corporate
    communications at Netscape Communications
    Corp., whose co-founder Marc Andreesen zoomed to public prominence after the
    company's spectacular initial public
    offering in August 1995. "We had an issue with Marc because people were mobbing
    him in crowds everywhere we went." 
    She said the Adobe kidnapping served as a wake-up call for computer and
    software companies to step up their security and
    require identity badges and cameras in their buildings. But the sensitivity to
    security did not apply in a vacuum. 
    "You have to be careful," she said. "A company can't do business if your
    executives can't go on the road. What happens is
    that we have to be a little more aware of where we're taking them. ... We
    haven't seen this as a real danger yet. We're very
    aware of it but most people are greatly respectful most of the time." 
    Copycat attacks? 
    Although several executives voiced concern that the attack on Gates could spark
    copycat assaults, Eli Barkat, the CEO of
    BackWeb Technologies Inc., said the Brussels incident was not a harbinger. 
    "I think it's an isolated incident," Barkat said. "Some people are afraid, but
    it's not because of the computer industry thing. If
    you're rich, you have to protect yourself against people who want to rob you.
    ... The No. 1 reason for people to be violent is
    all based on one word: revenge. That's the No.1 thing people need to care about
    as they think about their security." 
    Interestingly enough, Gates continues to freely walk the floors of trade shows
    like Comdex with little in the way of a
    discernible security detail. When he showed up for an interview at PC Week's
    offices in Medford, Mass., he was
    accompanied by Mathews, a slight 5-foot-something woman -- hardly what you'd
    expect from the world's richest person. 
    So why take the risk? In the end, the answer might be as simple as this: It's
    the job. 
    "I do think these people are at risk," said one senior public relations
    executive who asked to remain unidentified. "But they
    aren't fools and they have to balance the risks with the benefits and part of
    their role is to be public figures. It goes with the

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