A Facebook for the Few
By RUTH LA FERLA The New York Times September 6, 2007
If more proof were needed that the rich are different, it could be found on aSmallWorld.net, an invitation-only social networking site.
"I need to rent 20 very luxury sports cars for an event in Switzerland on the 6th September," a member wrote recently on the Forum, aSmallWorld's popular nucleus. "The cars should be: Maserati - Ferrari - Lamborghini - Aston Martin ONLY!"
Another announced: "If anyone is looking for a private island, I now have one available for purchase in Fiji."
Founded four years ago, the site, promoted as a Facebook for the social elite, has grown from about 500 members to about 150,000 registered users. At a time when Christina Aguilera has 466,550 MySpace friends, aSmallWorld has attempted to create an Internet niche by cultivating an air of exclusivity.
The site functions much like an inscrutable co-op board: its members, who pay no fee, induct newcomers on the basis of education, profession and most important, their network of personal contacts. Sleeker than MySpace or Facebook, aSmallWorld.net is not the type of site where one is likely to come across videos of amateur motorcycle stunts or girls in bikinis.
Users are mostly young - 32 on average. Many have graduate degrees and a taste for living extravagantly on more than one continent. Sixty-five percent are from Europe, 20 percent from the United States and the rest scattered around the globe.