At the party, Cashmore high-fives his fans, throws himself into two-armed hugs, and drapes his arms around swooning women. There's a line of people waiting to be photographed with him against a backdrop that says MASHABLE U.S. SUMMER WORLD TOUR.
The party tonight was oversold600 tickets purchased for a venue that holds 500and by 9 P.M. it's packed. It's like a high-school mixer but populated by grown-ups, standing in little clusters, shaking hands, taking pictures of one another, networking as if their lives depended on it. There's a guy with a hand puppet, another in a YouTube sweatshirt. Cashmore's photographer, Mike, gets yelled at by a couple of girls because he didn't take their picture with Cashmore.
"I don't intentionally self-promote," Cashmore says in his soft Scottish accent. "I kind of just let it wash over me." He pauses. "I do worry that people will start thinking of me as some kind of 2-D character. I'm always written about in this sort of context," he says, gesturing at the party. "I mean, no one ever writes 'Pete spent the day working at home today.'" Another pause. "But there are competitive advantages to this kind of visibility, you know."
A block or two from Cashmore's party in the Portrero Hill neighborhood are the Digg offices, where the guy Karp and Forman call the "rock star of the industry" reigns supreme. Kevin Rose"an old, old man," to quote Cashmorenever planned on going to the Mashable party. "I'm all partied out," he says. People magazine readers probably wouldn't know who Rose is, but among the Internet-savvy he's Brad Pitt. Rose, who dated Julia Allison a few years ago, is remarkably low-key compared with his younger counterparts. Drinking tea out of a mug covered with skulls and crossbones, he perks up when the talk turns to rock climbing (he's in a group called Geeks Love Climbing). He says he doesn't know what the term fameballer means. He also says he doesn't do things like wedge himself into nightclubs to have his picture taken with founder fetishists. "The scene is so small that there's no real need to schmooze," Rose says. "If you want to get something done, you just send out an e-mail and then, like, go for breakfast." Rose might even argue that the flashbulb-lit path that guys like Karp and Forman and Cashmore aim to take to stratospheric tech success doesn't necessarily lead there. But then, as Cashmore pointed out, Rose is very, very old.