When you have money – lots of money – you shouldn’t have to mingle with the hoi polloi. You travel first class, eat in exclusive restaurants and take limos when you need to get across town. But if you’re on Facebook or other social media, you often have to rub shoulders with the rest of us. How tacky.
If that’s a problem for you, here’s a solution: “Netropolitan, the online country club for people with more money than time.”
Sure. It sounds like a joke, and the photo on the public home page – four model types sitting in a private jet sipping wine – looks like a satirical image you might see on Jon Stewart's "Daily Show." (The photo is also at the top of this post.)
I just spoke with the PR agency that’s handling the launch of this social media service, and it appears to be real. In fact, the site aroused so much curiosity that when it first went live earlier today, its servers crashed.
Joining Netroplitan is easy – if you can afford it. You pay a $9000 initiation fee and $3000 a year after that. There’s no vetting process, no other requirements and no discrimination, according to Michelle Lawless, a former TV anchor whose firm is handling the site's PR.
So what do you get for the entrance fee? To start, discussion forums on subjects including fine wines, travel, yachts and vacations. The site isn’t available to the public (except for the home page) and all members’ communications are encrypted. There are no ads, live help is available during business hours, and moderators watch the site to be sure all discussions are appropriately tasteful.
The site was founded by James Pouchi-Peters, the former principal conductor of the Minneapolis Philharmonic Orchestra. Lawless says he “wanted to connect people with similar life styles who could talk about things that matter to them without the judgment that some people have encountered in other social networks.” Pouchi-Peters apparently has a partner in South Africa, so Netropolitan may soon go global.
In one sense, Netropolitan is more democratic than some of the other social networking sites for the rich.
ASmallWorld.net is by invitation only and prospective members start by filling out a questionnaire that asks for information on your income, cities you travel to, and your education. DiamondLounge, which appears to be out of business, said back in 2008 that “being wealthy doesn’t automatically get you in the door,” so I guess you had to be cool enough to get into an exclusive Manhattan scene club or something.
The folks in the one percent aren't all that popular these days. Netropolitan and the like give them a chance to socialize with their peers without all those pesky 99 percenters peeking in through the windows.