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|Founded||London, United Kingdom
|No. of locations||Zurich, Switzerland
New York, United States
|Key people||Erik Wachtmeister (Founder, 2004)
Harvey Weinstein (Founder, 2006)
Patrick Liotard-Vogt (Buyer, 2009) Sabine Heller (Former CEO, Board Member, 2014)
|Revenue||Unknown (June 2014)|
|Operating income||Unknown (June 2014)|
|Net income||Unknown (June 2014)|
|Total equity||CHF 100'000 |
|Employees||Unknown (June 2013)|
|Alexa rank||127,827 (as of January 2016)|
|Type of site||Social network service|
(since March 2004)
(since May 2013)
(since March 2004)
|Users||Unknown, less than 250,000 (April 2014)|
|Available in||English (UK)
ASmallWorld (styled ASMALLWORLD) (ASW) is an exclusive, paid-subscription social network, which relaunched in the spring of 2013 as a private international travel and social club, with a peer-recommended and verified user base capped membership at 250,000 members. Described as "Myspace for millionaires" and "The secret social network for the elite", the site was founded in 2004 by Erik Wachtmeister and was one of the first social networks at that time.
In March 2004, Wachtmeister and his wife Louise Wachtmeister founded the social networking website ASmallWorld as an exclusive social networking site for a worldwide community of people already connected by three degrees of separation. It launched at almost the same time as MySpace and Facebook, two years before Facebook was made available to non-college students. It was dubbed "MySpace for millionaires" by the Wall Street Journal. To maintain its desired exclusivity, ASmallWorld, while free, was invitation-only, open only to those invited by an existing member. Whereas Facebook soon opened its membership to everyone, A Small World remained exclusive. Wachtmeister, over the course of his travels, identified an existing niche community of people with similar lifestyles and tastes. He wanted to provide them with a platform to network and share information.
In May 2006, Harvey Weinstein's The Weinstein Company acquired the majority share, joining a team of investors that included former AOL Time Warner COO Robert W. Pittman, film director Renny Harlin, and entrepreneur Alexander Von Furstenberg. At the time, A Small World had approximately 130,000 members. Harvey Weinstein said his company planned to expand the site's membership and bring in additional advertisers. It was the Weinstein Company's first investment in an Internet company. After launching online advertising in 2006, the website had 100 partners. Advertisers included Jaguar, Diane von Furstenberg, Mercedes-Benz, Cartier, and Moet & Chandon.
In 2009, Swiss entrepreneur and investor Patrick Liotard-Vogt purchased the controlling stake in ASMALLWORLD and became its Chairman. At that time, membership was in excess of 500,000 members and growing, when Sabine Heller became its CEO.
In February 2013, ASmallWorld announced that as of March 1, 2013, it would not be accepting new members, citing an initiative to ensure the integrity of the community. The company mapped a new strategy with a smaller network and more perks for its members. After shutting down, ASW relaunched in May 2013 with a membership model ($110 annual contribution) to allow an advertising-free experience for its members.
In January 2014, the international press began reporting that there were private claims of approximately $5,000,000 against Patrick Liotard-Vogt. One of the claims was made by Diners Club (Schweiz) AG where Patrick Liotard-Vogt served on the board and acted as anchor investor. Another claim was made by David Degen, a Swiss soccer player. Towards the end of January 2014, Degen publicly announced that the matter had been privately settled. In early March 2014, Liotard-Vogt resigned from the Board of Directors of Diners Club AG after settling the matter. Later in March, Diners Club AG discontinued its operations in Switzerland, Germany, France and BENELUX.
Today, ASmallWorld is marketing itself as the leading private international lifestyle club, whose members are internationally minded people committed to opening their lives to each other, sharing extraordinary experiences and ensuring that fellow members can live like locals wherever they go. Membership requires an invitation from an existing member or a membership application approved by an international committee of trustees. ASMALLWORLD is active in ca. 150 cities around the world and offers more than 1000 events annually
ASmallWorld is part communication platform, part service platform, for "a private international community of culturally influential people, connected by three degrees." The website is tailored to facilitate both online interaction and offline meetups between members.
The site shares some features with other social network services, such as user profiles, an online calendar and private messaging. The site also offers over 100 "city guides" written by its members detailing and rating restaurants, bars and clubs. To facilitate meetups, ASW’s site has a “Geolocator” tool, which allows users to post travel plans as well as browse and comment on the travel plans of other members. Members can also view upcoming ASW-hosted events in different cities.
The site also allows members to buy and sell items, find potential employees and business partners, find investors or ventures to invest in, rent property, and find flatmates. Using the site’s discussion boards, members can exchange advice on travel and business, or simply engage in conversation.
ASmallWorld hosts about 300 events per year worldwide for members to get together. A membership card designed by Waris Ahluwalia provides access to various privileges and ASW events worldwide; an extensive privileges programme that offers deals and discounts on travel, lifestyle and luxury goods. The Member Privileges Programm includes benefits from luxury spas, to discounted stays in luxury hotels, including some of those in The Leading Hotels of the World group.
In 2011, members donated €40,000 to a sex trafficking prevention charity run by Somaly Mam. At the 2012 Winter Weekend in Gstaad, members raised $95,000 for the Alzheimer's Society. Carey Mulligan, an Ambassador for the Society's Alzheimer’s Society, was present.
The company also offers invitations to events hosted by its partners. For example, users might preview new collections from fashion designers. Members also have access to a privileges program. Here they can choose between over 500 partners offering reductions and VIP service among other things for hotels, car services, designer brands, and other lifestyle brands.
When ASmallWorld relaunched as a pay site in 2013 they promised members a week-long free vacation in St. Kitts and free introductory car service from various airports around the world. Construction of the hotel in St. Kitts was delayed and the resort will be open for guests in December 2014.
The 2013 effort to bring down the number of users from around 850,000 to 250,000 involved the expulsion of several members. According to the ASmallWorld management these were "a small group of under 900 users, most of whose accounts were dormant and the remainder who had acquired a notable percentage of declined and ignored connections, complaints from other members or reports of unsolicited or inappropriate messaging". The purge included some "fallen celebrities" such as Tiger Woods, allegedly on the grounds of his extramarital affairs, and actress Lindsay Lohan; while other celebrities, such as Joshua Bell, Bibhu Mohapatra, or Chelsea Leyland remained in the network. The management stated that the process was based on an "algorithm" and that it had "decided to terminate the accounts of anyone who undermines the unique spirit of openness that serves as the cornerstone of ASW". As a result, a few thousand former and current members gathered on Facebook in a group called "asw nostalgia", of which one admin was subsequently removed from ASMALLWORLD. ASMALLWORLD defended this action with a personal comment on the member.
Recently, ASmallWorld has been the subject of controversy for failing to provide the goods and services promised, engaging in gender discrimination and eliminating members without good cause.
Gender Discrimination Law Suit
In April 2014 ASMALLWORLD was sued by a former employee in Federal District Court in Manhattan for discrimination. The plaintiff alleges that he was fired by ASMALLWORLD for requesting paid leave when his spouse had a child. The case was settled by ASMALLWORLD for an undisclosed sum.
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