John Gapper – FT.com Jan 24, 2013
Greetings from Davos, the annual shindig of world leaders and chief executives in a valley by a Swiss mountain. Or perhaps the site of a global conspiracy of the power elite. Or perhaps the place where a Swiss professor imposes his quaint euro-views on “stakeholder capitalism” on US corporations. Or perhaps one giant cocktail party.
The fact that the World Economic Forum has been going since 1971 and can pull 2,600 professionals away from their desks without knowing precisely why they come is quite an achievement. Any event that can charge SFr22,000 ($23,600) per seat – and up to SFr500,000 for membership – has things to teach rivals.
Quartz, the business news publication, this week unveiled the “confidential” list of Davos attendees, reinforcing the notion that the 0.1 per cent is up to no good. “It allows bankers or people in business to meet and make deals they couldn’t legally do in their offices,” says Richard Saul Wurman, founder of the Ted conferences.
But why travel all the way to Davos to fix prices? Most people here spend their days debating corporate social responsibility and the global economy, and their nights rubbing shoulders with fellow guests over drinks and dinner. The WEF is not a conspiracy; it is infotainment.