I’m not sure why Bill Gates brought so many A-list journalists this year to his annual shindig for business leaders to yack about the future of technology.
Charlie Rose, Tom Friedman, Tom Brokaw, Michael Kinsley and Maria Bartiromo are all mingling with the moneybags this year.
It used to be that Gates and Microsoft alone had enough star power to lure the biggest names in business.
Twelve years on, the CEO Summit is still drawing some household names, including Gates buddy Warren Buffett and former GE boss Jack Welch, although others may opt to get their Gates fix at Davos or the Wall Street Journal’s “D” conference in a few weeks.
Given the crowd, it’s always been a closed-door event, but Microsoft trickles out enough details to let people know that big names are coming to Redmond and dining on halibut or Copper River salmon at Bill’s place in Medina.
The usual routine is that plebian journalists can watch a telecast of the opening speech that Gates presents at the event. Sometimes they’ll bring a handful of executives out for a token panel discussion with reporters.
This year’s news dollop suggests that the executives will be pitched on Microsoft’s new advertising technology, more than mobile or PC computing. Instead of getting Tablet PCs, they’ll get to play with various Surface computers, including the vertical ones that Microsoft’s been showing since the start of the year.
But the big question is, if Microsoft’s inviting select journalists behind the curtain, does that mean we’ll finally get news coverage from inside the event?
Among the stories I’m waiting for: What do CEOs think about Microsoft’s new technologies, the outlook on tech spending in the downturn, outsourcing as labor costs rise, executives’ take on Vista vs. OS X and whether any of the other tycoons will follow Bill’s path to philanthropy.