The Uninvited: snubbed by Davos, yet again
The World Economic Forum – or, as those of us in the know refer to it, Davos; or, as I sometimes think of it as, the Big Kloster – is on this week and, yet again, Pink Slip was not invited.
Just not smart enough. Big-thinking enough. Successful enough. Elite enough.
Boo-hoo, sniff-sniff: no one wants to network with me!
This is not quite as hurtful as not being invited to Kathy O’s birthday party in fifth grade, but it’ll do.
Don’t they realize that the Common Man, not to mention the Common Woman, also wants to fix the world, save humanity, star-gaze, and sip champagne.
Sure, I suppose we could go hang around Sundance if we want to be around some movers and shakers, but that’s just The Movies. There’s star-gazing aplenty – with stars that are more recognizable than the CEO’s of Lucent and HIS, and even more recognizable than Bono, who’s also a Davos man. But we don’t want to just spot celebrities. We want to “improve the state of the world…[and] shape global, regional and industry agendas.” And that means, Davos, baby.
I guess I should count myself fortunate in one respect: Davos-ing costs a lot of moola to attend. (Note to self: add not rich enough to Davos-related things I’m not.)
The NY Times (Andrew Ross Sorkin’s column) had some of the lowdown on what a run to Davos might set you back if you really need and want to go “chasing successful people who want to be seen with other successful people. That’s the game,” in the words of author Nassim Taleb.
In order to wangle an invite to Davos, you have to have a pre-invite to become a member of the World Economic Forum.
There are several levels of membership: the basic level, which will get you one invitation to Davos, costs 50,000 Swiss francs, or about $52,000. The ticket itself is another 18,000 Swiss francs ($19,000), plus tax, bringing the total cost of membership and entrance fee to $71,000.
But this just gets you into the tent, not into any of the side shows, where the real interesting stuff happens. So you really want to get into the private sessions, as opposed to the events that are open to the Great Unwashed with their measly $71K membership and ticket. (Double-L Loser!) To get into the private events, that’ll be $156K. But I say, in for a dime, in for a dollar.
If you’re going to do Davos, I say do Davos.
Quibbling over a few bucks is so non-Davosian.
The fees cited above give you one ticket – no two-fers here. If you want to bring a buddy, you have to pay more. A lot more. But let’s face it, you certainly don’t want to be there alone at a private function. What if no-one recognizes you? At least if you have a
minion colleague by your side, there’s someone you can be pretending to discuss Big Ideas with while you try to figure out whether it’s tacky to ask Bono for his autograph, rather than his Big Ideas. (Oh, those first timers! So easily star-struck…)
Bringing a best-bud is not a matter of ponying up the marginal cost of another ticket. You need the upgrade package. $301K (with two tickets).
If you travel with more than one, the ante’s upped further. You could drop $622K if you want to bring four friends with you. But at least that gets you into the private, good stuff.
And perhaps the biggest perk of all, your car and driver are given a sticker allowing door-to-door pickup service.
Not everyone can join the club at this level. Apparently, there are enough Western-types around already. Applications are only being accepted from companies from China or India that are on the Global 250 list.
(The Times writer points out that all levels of membership grant you invites to other World Economic Forum pow-wows, plus access to research projects. But he was pointing this out “in fairness.” I have so little interest in being fair about Davos, when I’m still smarting from not being there.)
None of the above includes T&E, of course. And nobody flies coach to Davos. Actually, nobody flies coach to Zurich, from whence they can proceed to Davos by helicopter for $3.4K.
(The forum provides a free bus service for those worried about their environmental footprint.)
This is a very good point. You can cheap out and take the bus, Gus, while letting it be known that you care more about the polar bear than the show-offs who are coptering in.
As at any good trade show, companies sponsor events – dinners, cocktail receptions, parties.
The bigger parties, like one that will be given by Google on Friday night for several hundred people, can run more than $250,000 for the evening. (In years past, Google has flown in the band and bartenders; one year, the company had an oxygen bar.)
Oxygen bar. Wowie, zowie.
Some, however, are claiming that Davos is on the wane as a must-attend event.
As one attendee, the author David Rothkopf, recently wrote on his blog, “The entire endeavor is fading for several reasons, all associated with the inadequacy of Davos as a networking forum.”
He explained, “As Steve Case, founder of AOL, once told me while standing at the bar in the middle of the hubbub of the main conference center: ‘You always feel like you are in the wrong place in Davos, like there is some better meeting going on somewhere in one of the hotels that you really ought to be at. Like the real Davos is happening in secret somewhere.’ “
And if that’s how Steve Case is feeling, well, can you just imagine what would be going through Pink Slip’s mind if she had been able to wangle an invite to the Google oxygen bar.
Davos, Schmavos. Feh!
This weekend The Banshees – my sisters/cousins gang – are having our own personal Davos in Portsmouth, NH. We may do more shopping and gossiping than world saving. But I’ll bet we’ll have more fun than those who go to Davos hoping that Bono will make eye contact with them and tell them they had something interesting to say.