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Blog Post

CES 2010 and Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas

I remember Adelson as one of the most impressive salesmen in the business who built Comdex one exhibitor at a time

I arrived in Las Vegas two weeks before CES's opening date of January 7th to research venue options for Cloud Computing Expo 2011.

During my first cab ride from the airport to the Venetian, I asked my driver how "Shelly" was doing.

He replied, "You mean Sheldon Adelson?"

I said, "Yes."

The driver said, "He is not doing well. I heard he has started suffering from amnesia. They say he is forgetting things. I hope he gets better. He lost a ton of money too."

If you visit Las Vegas, you get the latest news and gossip from cab drivers.

Adelson is the luckiest man in Las Vegas history in my humble opinion.

He built Comdex from scratch, then sold it to Softbank for a billion dollars, or close to it anyway.

My second cab driver said, "The town will never see another Comdex again." If you look at the Las Vegas skyline you see more unfinished high rises than you will see in Miami."

I did a quick Google search on Adelson on the way to the hotel and found out that he lost $24b in 2008.

I remember Adelson as one of the most impressive salesmen in the business.

He built Comdex one exhibitor at a time. I met him once at the PC Expo in New York City, as he was working the floor. He would visit each booth at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, introduce himself, give the booth staff his business card, and explain to them why they should come to Las Vegas to be part of Comdex.

I asked another cab driver what he thought about CES.

He was not impressed. He was looking forward to the event but he estimated that only half the number of people would attend compared to what the show organizers were advertising.

He said, "Comdex was not like that. People would rent their homes to out-of-towners; you couldn't find a single hotel room in town."

Another cab driver mentioned that he was not happy with the Las Vegas City Center that opened a few days ago, as we drove in front of the building.

For the first time ever, I did go to one show before leaving town on Christmas Day.

I saw David Copperfield's 10 pm show. I was both disappointed and felt sorry for Copperfield.

He immediately reminded me of Billy Joel.

Joel once said in a TV interview "while I am on stage I am thinking about which bills I need to pay, remembering my oil change appointment, or to close the pool that weekend..."

Copperfield was physically on stage but he was not in the building.

He kept repeating his not-so-funny Chinese and Vietnamese language jokes.

And his black spray-painted hair looked pitiful.

I was shocked to see such a completely different man on stage compared to his pictures hanging outside the theater.

I think it is time for Copperfield to retire. He had a good run, made enough money, and now it's time for him to settle on his island in the Bahamas.

No one should look like that on stage, even if you are performing to a mostly Asian audience on Christmas Eve.

More Stories By Fuat Kircaali

Fuat Kircaali is the founder and chairman of SYS-CON Media, Cloud Expo, Inc. and Ulitzer, Inc.

Kircaali came to the United States from Zurich University, Switzerland in 1984 while studying for his PhD, to design computer systems for SH-2G submarine hunter helicopters for the U.S. Navy. He later worked at IBM's IS&CG Headquarters as a market research analyst under Mike Armstrong's leadership, an IBM executive who later ran IBM Europe and AT&T; and Fuat was the Director of Information Systems for UWCC, reporting to CEO Steve Silk (later Hebrew National CEO), one of the top marketing geniuses of the past two decades.

Kircaali founded SYS-CON Media in 1994, a privately held tech media company with sales exceeding $100 million. SYS-CON Media was listed twice by Inc 500 and Deloitte and Touche as one of the fastest-growing companies in North America. Kircaali launched Ulitzer, Inc., a revolutionary "new media" start-up in mid 2009.

Fuat completed Bogazici University Business Administration program in 1982 with a Bachelor's Degree. He was one of 50 students accepted to the program out of over 1 million high school graduates that year.

http://twitter.com/fuatkircaali

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