One Does Not Simply Meet Tony Stark

July 01, 2016:

Karen Starr has been trying to get a meeting with Tony Stark to no avail, so she's turned to his advisor Sam Wilson, to see if he can land a hand.

Starrware Industries

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Tony Stark, Pepper Potts

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Karen Starr is sitting in the CEO's office of Starrware Industries, after several failed attempts to make contact with Tony Stark, she's decided the best approach would be to go through his advisor, Sam Wilson, and so she's scheduled a meeting with Sam, waiting in her office, a manilla folder set on her desk.

It's a rare boss who understands the demands on Sam Wilson's time. Between the Justice League, the Avengers, and SHIELD, Falcon spends much of his time flitting from one superheroic crisis to the next. Fortunately, Pepper Potts is just that rare boss. If anything, Sam's tireless multitasking and constant overbooking remind Ms. Potts of the futurist whose name is plastered all over the company she runs.

Of course, Sam does manage to spend a lot of time seeing to Stark business, connecting the dots between the company's technological innovations and the first responders who could benefit from them. And a summons from another major firm — perhaps even a competitor, depending on your perspective — is the sort of business that it's important for him to attend to. (And the sort of thing Tony is very likely to ignore, when it comes right down to it.)

So it is that he enters Karen's office, dressed with ever so much more formality than usual at Stark itself, and looking more than a little curious about his presence. "Ms. Starr?" he asks, pointing to a chair with uplifted brows. "You wanted to see me?"

Karen is a fair bit taller than the average woman, standing at 6'2" with her heels, she's wearing a purple dominant business pants suit, no skirt for her, heels aside she's trying to avoid gender specific trends if only to make the point that she's very much about business, and her gender should play no role in the matter. She's had her share of misogynist and their ilk on her way up the business ladder, and she founds it's best to simply flow around the subject of gender all together and dive straight in to business and technology. "Mr. Wilson, I'm glad you could make the time…Mr. Stark certainly never seem to have any to spare, time that is," she pushes the manila folder towards Sam as she gestures for him to sit across from her.

"Which is where I hope you can help me, I hear your words have way of reaching Tony Stark's ears, and I'd love to have a business meeting with him." Gesturing at the folder, she proceeds, "Starrware Industries is about to come out with a power efficent set of chips and motherboards, cutting down electrical usage tremendously, we're aiming at the individual consumer, but I though perhaps with Mr. Stark's assistance, we could push this technology on an enterprise scale…"

Sam takes the chair and the folder, rifling through the latter with a wry smirk on his face. "I guess I am a lot easier to get a hold of than Tony," he admits. "I won't pretend that's an accident on his part, but I can tell you it's not personal. He just likes his long, uninterrupted brainstorming sessions. That's why he mostly leaves running the company to Pepper Potts."

Setting the folder back down — most of the technical specifics were well beyond him, but he did take note of the production specifications — he asks Karen directly, "Are you looking for Stark's help with manufacturing and distribution, or is this more of an endorsement you're looking for?" Having the Iron Man express a preference for a certain piece of technology was a request Stark's company received quite a bit. "If it's a practical arrangement you need, you'll be better off with Ms. Potts. Tony is brillaint, but she's the one who really gets things done."

"Who'd imagine that?" Karen laughs, before shaking her head, "I wonder how many opportunites Mr. Stark missed out on simply because he's got his head too far up his own rear to actually talk to little people," not generally the sort of thing anyone would dare say in a professional setting, and Karen is looking closely at Sam in case he'll take offense and she'll need to apologize. But then it's part of her charm, she tends to say what's on her mind. "I'm glad you see the value in actually giving people a chance, Mr. Wilson."

"Hmmm…Pepper Potts, is she technologically inclined? Or mostly a business person?" Karen asks Sam, not wanting to make assumptions. The reason she wanted to meet with Tony is because she knows he'll appreciate the technological applications of the idea she wanted to discuss. She's not so sure if Pepper would see it the same way, gender bias aside. Ms. Potts after all is held in higher regard than she is in the business world. "Oh, this is all about collaboration opportunity. I'm not sure if you're familiar with my company, Mr. Wilson, but Starrware Industries is all about making our world a better place. If Stark Industries adapts the technology, and help endorse it to the military, our Earth will be much greener in the long run, and it will cut down resource usage and pollution. We would be more than open for shared manufacturing. Maybe Mr. Stark would have some ideas to even further improve the technology, he is a highly regarded scientific mind after all."

Sam's eyebrows shoot upward at the frank assessment of Stark's shortcomings, but he neither objects nor agrees. If the smile tugging at the corners of his mouth is anything to judge by, though, he's having more trouble stopping himself from laughing than stopping himself from getting offended.

When Karen has finished, Sam answers, "I see what you mean. Pepper is a very smart administrator — I think she understands what her company produces more than a lot of executives — but she's not on Tony's level when it comes to actually understanding bleeding-edge tech." He shrugs. "Pretty much nobody is."

He lifts the folder from the desktop and shakes it once. "I'll try to run this past both of them. Energy is a huge interest for the company, and working on efficient usage goes hand in hand with clean production," he says. "That said, since we got out of the weapons business, our relationship with the military isn't necessarily the best place for you to start with them. We're much better with aerospace manufacturers and consumer goods."

"The way I see it, Mr. Wilson, Stark is a name that would carry much more weight and connection in the military than Starr, and ultimately, the more organizations that wind up using this, the more our world will be better for it. The output will be the same, but the cutting in pollution and energy is well worth the upgrade," Karen speaks rather frankly, no bravado in her voice, she's usually not one to toot her own horn, which is why she'd dearly love to have Tony Stark's input.

"I appreciate you taking the time to come and see me, you can take this," she gestures at the manila folder with the specs and diagrams, "maybe if Tony Stark actually gives it a look, he'd be more inclined to consider meeting with me," she then reaches to take a card from her desk, handing it to Sam, "my personal contact, no secretaries or flappers along the way, simply direct contact to save some time. Feel free to use it if you need me, and of course Mr. Stark is free to call any hour of the day, I understand his schedule is quite irregular."

"I appreciate it," Sam says, accepting the card and slipping it into the breast pocket of his shirt. "Mr. Stark can be tough to get a hold of, but I have JARVIS access. I can upload the specs and tell him to bug Tony the next time he's in the suit." It's only too easy to guess which suit Sam is referring to; talk about a captive audience. "I'll let you know what he thinks. As for Pepper?" Wilson smiles. "Getting in touch with her will be a lot more conventional. I'll leave the hard copies on her desk."

After Sam gets up to go, he pauses for a second, then turns back to Karen, crossing his arms across his chest and holding the folder at one side. "I do wonder why you're going for broadest distribution as soon as possible, rather than limited deployment in high-end goods and then trickling down to the rest of the market," he says, just a bit hesitantly. "That's a much more profitable model, from what I understand. Are you trying to oust your competitors and corner the market, or…?"

Karen nods and gets up from her own seat, extending a hand towards Sam, "was a pleasure to meet you, and I appreciate the help you're offering, you can call me Karen," she means to project by virtue of offering this help, he's more than just a business guest in her company. "That's precisely the thing, Mr. Wilson, I'm about making the world better, not making the big money. Sure, I don't say no to income, but it's not my chief goal in life."

Sam accepts that answer, and the handshake, with a smile and a thoughtful hum. There aren't a lot of people in Karen's position who, in their hearts, would agree with the sentiment she just voiced. He's willing to give her the benefit of the doubt, but he's very curious to see whether she means what she says.

In the meantime, he ends the meeting with a polite dip of his head. "Agreed — great meeting you, Karen. And it's Sam," he says. "I hope this collaboration works out for both of us."

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