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Goldman Sachs Tech Confab in Vegas: "Uber F*#k-Up" Chatter as CEO Stars Onstage

Back-stabbing schadenfreude is one of the key characteristics of Silicon Valley, which comes right before extravagantly public forgiveness.

Today, the annual Goldman Sachs technology conference in Las Vegas opened with a fireside chat with Zillow’s Rich Barton, followed by presentations by companies like Square, Minted and Thumbtack.

At lunch in an “Innovation Fast Track,” hot startups such as Product Hunt, Artsy and StyleSeat were on display, selected by the investment bank to be shown off.

And, later tonight, the attendees will hear the stylings of former New York Yankee Derek Jeter, who will be interviewed by Kim Posnett, the head of global Internet investment banking at Goldman.

But the real attention, according to numerous people there, will be on the closing keynote tomorrow with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who was one of the big stars last year, too. This year, unless he pulls out, he is skedded to be questioned by George Lee, the chairman of Goldman’s telecom, media and technology practice.

But don’t expect hardballs from Lee, since Goldman has been one of the many banks seeking to get close to Kalanick and Uber — and by this, I mean slavishly kiss up to — in order to be able to work with it on its various funding events and as Uber moves toward its inevitable IPO.

Kalanick, of course, is under fire this week for comments made by one of his top execs, business head Emil Michael, about a kookified plan to smear reporters who are not nice to the transportation juggernaut — specifically, Sarah Lacy of PandoDaily, who has been a vocal critic of the service, especially calling out its treatment of women.

It’s doubtful there will be much of that discussed onstage, except perhaps for another mistakes-were-made apology by Kalanick, which he also did today on Twitter. But people at the event said the “Uber f*#k-up” was the chatter of the event.

“It is all anyone wants to talk about,” said one attendee in a common sentiment. “It is unbelievable that Uber keeps succeeding and messing up like this.”

It’s not a surprise that Uber’s mess was the topic du jour, since back-stabbing schadenfreude is one of the key characteristics of Silicon Valley, which comes right before extravagantly public forgiveness.

Also onstage, in case you’re interested, since I have the whole schedule: Jessica Alba and Brian Lee of Honest Company; Flipboard’s Mike McCue; Instacart’s Apoorva Mehta; Hotel Tonight’s Sam Shank; Adam Nash of Wealthfront; and more.

There are panels too, including with Google Capital’s David Lawee and corporate development head Don Harrison, as well as one on the Internet of Things, with August, Canary, Electric Imp and IFTTT.

Other startups featured include: Avvo, InVenture, MyFitnessPal, Handy, Niche, Sailthru and more.

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