Chapter 3 - The Roadshow, June 1999 - Episode 2Listen to podcast
Larry and Donna are sitting together in the first class cabin of the Delta A-300 from Kennedy Airport to Geneva. Gustav and Rachel are also there but not sitting together or with Larry and Donna. The bankers are conspicuously absorbed with important-looking reading material. Larry and Donna have their laptops deployed for work but they’re talking.
“I heard a good story about Bill Gates flying to Europe for the Microsoft IPO,” says Donna.
“Bill always had this thing about nobody in Microsoft buying a first class ticket. And he always stuck to it himself. Somehow, the bankers convinced him to spring for first class; it’s a long haul from Seattle to Geneva or wherever they started theirs. The other Microsoft people traveling with him are delighted. They stretch out with room to sleep. But they never get any sleep because Bill keeps waking them up all night and saying ‘Is this worth it? Is this worth an extra $1500 a piece each way?’”
“Yeah, sounds like Bill,” says Larry. “Who told you the story?”
“Dom did, of course. Sometimes I think he’s sorry he left Microsoft.”
“Fuck Dom. He never did anything he didn’t want to do. He makes me sick with his whining. If we didn’t need him, I’d fire his ass in a minute.”
“But we DO need him,” says Donna. “The programmers love him; he’s a good CTO; and he thinks like a hacker. That’s what we need.”
“Fuck Dom,” Larry repeats.
“If you say so, boss,” says Donna. She starts working on her computer, her expression closed.
Dinner is served after drinks, with drinks, and followed by drinks.
“Donna,” says Larry, mellow.
“Yeah, boss.” She still sounds annoyed.
“You think this’ll really happen? You think three weeks from now we’re going to be public and have a company with a half-a-billion dollar valuation?”
“Probably,” she says. “The market could tank before then. Something could go wrong in the company. The plane could crash; but, if none of those things happen, then probably the IPO does.”
“You really think it’ll happen?”
She looks at him for a while before answering. “Look, Lar, someone rubs your dick you get a hard-on and you come. Not always, but usually. Sometimes you don’t. This market is on Viagra; it’s horny as hell. It pops for every story that comes along and we’re better than most. Probably it happens.”
The plane doesn’t crash. The market CAN’T crash because it’s a weekend. They land in Geneva. A Mercedes takes them to the Hotel des Bergues at the foot of Lake Geneva. They meet for dinner at a candlelit restaurant; everyone is on his or her good behavior but tired. Donna asks if anyone is interested in a nightcap when they get back to the hotel. Only Rachel is, and the two women get a table in the hotel bar.
After a few minutes of small talk, Rachel asks Donna what Larry is really like.
“What do you mean, what is he really like?”
“I mean ... you know ....I mean he tries to make himself out to be a jerk. Is that who he really is?”
“You think he’s being a jerk because he made Harvey pay half for the plane? More CEOs should do that.”
“No… no,” says Rachel. “That’s not what I mean. I mean … it sort of is. He was right about the plane, but why did he have to humiliate Harvey? He didn’t have to do that.”
“Are you sure you know what you mean? Look, has anyone else gotten Harvey to pay half?”
“Not that I know of, but it’s not a lot of money in the grand scheme of things. Maybe no one thought it was worth their time to ask…”
“That’s not the point,” Donna explains. “Larry thought Harvey was taking advantage of him. He came unglued - Maybe he came unglued; maybe it was calculated — but when Harvey said ‘that’s the way it’s always done’ or whatever dumb-ass thing Harvey said...” She shrugs. “Larry displayed alpha-male behavior; your boss backed down. You thought Harvey was the alpha-male and now you think Larry’s a jerk. Or do you?”
“No… no. That’s not what I said,” says Rachel.
“Do you have the hots for Lar? Is that what you’re saying? Does the real alpha-male turn you on?”
“That’s not what I’m talking about at all,” says Rachel. “I’m not talking about who’s hot. I’m trying to understand my customer; that’s Larry. He can be hard to deal with. I want to understand. I want to help you and Larry market this deal and have a great IPO.”
“This isn’t the B-School, honey. This is fucking life and who’s hot and who’s alpha and who’s not means a lot more than whatever they taught you in IPO 101. You say you want to help me and Larry. I hope it’s YOU you want to help. Or is it Larry? ...Or is it me?”
Donna puts her hand on top of Rachel’s on the table. Rachel is clearly uncomfortable. Donna turns Rachel’s hand over and drags a finger from her free hand across Rachel’s palm. Rachel jerks her hand back. The bartender conspicuously looks away.
“Do you want to have a drink in my room?” asks Donna, laughing. “I’ve got a balcony with a great view of the Lake.”
“No. NO. That’s not what I want,” says Rachel. She gathers her dignity and stands up. “I want to do my job. See you in the morning. I’m sure you guys’ll have a great IPO.”
But Rachel can’t sleep. It’s only evening in New York so she calls Harvey Maklin on his cell. He doesn’t sound happy to hear from her.
“Look, Harvey,” Rachel says. “I think I’ve been propositioned by the client.”
“You think?” Harvey asks. “You THINK? You can’t tell if Larry propositioned you? I never thought the sonuvabitch was subtle.”
“It wasn’t Larry, Harvey; it was Donna, and I’m not sure.”
“Is it sexual harassment if it’s a woman…?”
“Yes, Harvey; it is. It doesn’t really make any difference. She’s in a position of power.”
“Are you going to file a complaint?”
“I don’t know, Harvey. That’s why I’m calling you and asking your advice. I mean what am I supposed to do? This is my first roadshow. I want it to go well. I don’t know what to do.”
“Well,” says Harvey, “you can certainly call HR or the harassment compliance officer. You have a right to do that. Once you do, there’s no telling how far they’ll take it. You lose control. But you could do that. I’m not telling you not to. But you also say you’re not sure. There’s a lot of pressure in a roadshow and people act strangely under pressure. You wouldn’t want to make a complaint unless you’re sure. But you do have a right to.”
“Harvey, you sound like you’re covering your own ass.”
“What? I thought you wanted my advice?” He’s very cold.
“I did, Harvey. Thanks. I’ll deal with it. Maybe I over-reacted. Sorry to have bothered you. Good night.”
Harvey writes a memo to file describing the conversation — not exactly the way it happened — before he goes to bed.