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Cream of the Cybercrop

Sep. 16, 2004

Ever find yourself pondering such burning questions as how to hire a luxury helicopter ride from Marseilles to St. Tropez or which end-of-season Ibiza parties are still hot? If so, you require the services of an élite website called — but the Stockholm-based service is by invitation only. If you know the right people, an e-mail arrives saying "Welcome to "ASmallWorld," and you're ushered into a rarefied club with 21,000 members — including supermodel Naomi Campbell, mysterious New York City financier Jeffrey Epstein and a chunk of European aristocracy — who swap jet-set travel tips and chat online. The site was founded in March of this year by Erik Wachtmeister, 49, the son of a former Swedish ambassador to the U.S., who dreams of creating the world's "leading global social-networking community."

How does it work? Once a "ASmallWorld" member convinces at least five other members to agree to join his network, he gains the privilege of inviting outsiders to join the website. If you get the nod, you can then access free information (vetted by fellow members) that varies from limo services and nightclubs to yacht brokers. But that's only a part of the website's appeal. Wachtmeister wants his élites to mingle, which means scouring the members list for people you know and asking them to join your network. This allows for the rather obscene I'll-show-you-mine-if-you-show-me-yours privilege of seeing who is on other networks and, of course, for the chance to get snubbed. Whether Wachtmeister succeeds or not, he's broken new ground in the world of cybersnobbery.