Boston College Finance Conference 2000

A Conference Notebook

Overnight success

Where Federal Reserve chief Alan Greenspan stood to deliver his economic address the morning of March 6, hockey players had been delivering body-checks a mere 14 hours earlier.

Work crews toiled overnight to transform Conte Forum, site of a rousing BC-BU hockey game on Sunday evening - and the BC-Villanova men's basketball game the night before - into a venue for a major finance conference Monday morning. The job involved laying flooring and carpeting over the ice, building a stage and fixing sound and lights, and setting down 294 linen-covered tables and 880 chairs.

A dozen men on the bull-gang laid the floor and removed the hockey glass around the boards, while another crew cleaned the stands of post-game litter. Outside vendors arrived with lights and speakers, carpeting and tables. A crew from Dining Services came at 4 a.m. to do the tablecloths.

And the result? "I think it was fantastic," said Bureau of Conferences Director David Early, who arrived during the Sunday game and stayed overnight supervising the metamorphosis. "To see it transformed from what it looked like in the third period of the hockey game to what we ended up with at eight in the morning - I thought it looked great.

"It was a tribute to the people in this college, the guys in the bull - gang, the outside vendors. Everybody pulled together."

Despite burning the midnight oil, Early stayed for the whole conference. "Did you think I was going to miss it?" he said.

Ad infinitum

CNBC commentator C. Tyler Mathisen, who moderated the two panel discussions, introduced a familiar, if low-tech, interactive element to the afternoon session.

During an exchange between's Jeff Taylor and Lycos head Robert J. Davis about the merits of advertising on TV versus the Internet, Mathisen asked for a show of hands from audience members who regularly surfed the 'Net, as well as those who "clicked through" on-line ads and recalled any of the ones they saw. While nearly all of the crowd appeared to respond affirmatively to the first question, Mathisen noted the number of hands decreased markedly from there.

By comparison, most of the audience indicated they had seen the "When I grow up..." TV spot, supporting Taylor's claim that traditional media advertising played a valuable role in his company's success.

Davis, however, pressed his point. "Can I see how many people," he asked the audience, "were on the Internet five years ago?"

When a conspicuously small percentage of the audience raised their hands, Davis said it was a reflection of how the Internet "is still evolving" and becoming an integral part of our communications media. Isolating the Internet from other media, he added, "would be a mistake."

C. Tyler Mathisen, host of CNBCís ìMarket Watchî program,
moderated the morning and afternoon discussion panels.

The next generation

Taylor illustrated how the future generation of business and economic leaders have already taken to Internet technology, dramatically recounting his 11-year-old son's zeal in trying to obtain Pokemon cards through an on-line auction. Taylor admitted he had found himself drawn into the bidding war, which matched him and his boy with "another father and son in Phoenix." The Taylors, alas, lost out at the last minute.

Here's to the chairman

Greenspan celebrated his 74th birthday at the conference, receiving a BC football shirt and a rendition of "Happy Birthday" from the audience, led by Congressman Edward Markey. He also was presented a birthday cake (chocolate, white frosting) adorned with five candles - each one representing 14.8 years of the chairman's life, dutifully noted the Financial Times .

Eyes of the world

One hundred and eight members of the press, representing 54 outlets, were on hand to cover the conference. The list literally ranged from "A" (ABC News) to "Z" (Zuma Press), and included local media like the Boston Globe, Boston Herald , Allston-Brighton TAB , New England Cable News, WBZ radio and TV, WCVB, WGBH and WBUR, as well as national and international organizations such as The Wall Street Journal , International Herald Tribune , CNN, National Public Radio, Reuters, Agence France Presse and Associated Press.

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