Erik Weinstein has only one investment in an Internet property–aSmallWorld.net. Think online gated community. Membership in the social networking site is by invitation only and even then based on education, profession, and most importantly - your network of personal contacts. A recent post read “I need to rent 20 very luxury sports cars for an event in Switzerland on the 6th September…the cars should be Maserati, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Aston Martin ONLY!” The average age of users is 32 and 65% are from Europe, 20% from the
and the remainder from all over the world.
Founded four years ago, the site didn’t see much advertising until about 6 months or so ago when luxury brands like Cartier jumped in to gain access to a membership that spend an average of $20,000 to $50,000 a month. To beef up advertising, aSmallWorld hired former Fox Interactive Media Joe Robinson who will spend his time convincing the likes of Lufthansa, Land Rover, and Credit Suisse that the pricey advertising rates are worth it. Of the 150,000 registered users, only 35% actually log in every day according to Mr. Robinson and comScore senior analyst Andrew Lipsman suggests that number may even be smaller. Meanwhile, Facebook registered 30.6 million unique visitors in July. How much time do social elites spend hanging out online? Is this the best place to fork out the cash to reach tastemakers?
Only if you are a member. Right now the site is not exclusive to the rich, and well-connected – the site is like a chamber of commerce directory full of publicists and party promoters. Similar to LinkedIn, the greatest value is in the networks, not the advertising. Laura Rubin, a brand consultant and fashion publicist and member of aSmallWorld.net has used her network of 170 or so to skyrocket her business ventures. There’s more rolodex to it than myspace.
Any copycat sites? Sure, early next year check your mailbox for an invite to ratings.com. Members will pay a $250 annual fee and have a net worth in the millions or tens of millions – and no advertising. Still waiting for my invite.