In the best of all worlds, everybody would be invited to Best of All Worlds, the site set to launch August 28 from Swedish count Erik Wachtmeister and his wife, countess Louise Wachtmeister, former Swedish national champion in the 400-meter and 800-meter relay.
But as reality has it, it’s a “social navigator” for the 1% with five modes of operation: private, professional, family, social or party -- each with a unique set of photos, links and recommendations.
Wachtmeister sent out 5,000 invitations in May to a hand-picked “seed” group built around the assumption that people prefer to digitally mingle with those most like themselves, joining “worlds” focused on business, food and wine, health or a better world – for those with charitable or philanthropic interests.
Best of All Worlds will run ad-free for the first month, but Wachtmeister knows his community is prime real estate for advertisers selling upscale goods and services such as watches, wine, yachts and liquor. Until then, he’s financing the site with his own money, investors in Europe, a San Francisco VC firm, and a member of the Saudi royal family. The site now has about 25,000 members from 120 countries and Wachtmeister is looking for the next $5 - $10 million in funding.
“We empower global social discovery within an intimate and trusted community. Not endless online noise. Discover people, common passions, and compelling information for tomorrow, not yesterday, in worlds of shared interests and friends. Based in Stockholm, Best of All Worlds was founded by Erik and Louise Wachtmeister to return relevance, trust, and usefulness to the online world,” says the site.
The overt intent is to lure jet-setters and the wealthy away from Facebook and LinkedIn. “Facebook is a monopoly in the social sphere, but it only gives little value. We can deliver clever filters, cut through the mess and get information that’s relevant and we can trust.”
Best of All Worlds users can locate restaurants and nightlife via city guides (the app launched in July), check who’s attending Art Basel in Miami or England’s Royal Ascot races, as well as access members’ ratings on hotels and dining. “Our goal is to create the ultimate city guide…nobody else does this,” Wachtmeister said. “The key today is filters. We are surrounded by noise. It’s the wisdom of the trusted few, rather than the wisdom of the crowds.”
Wachtmeister’s pedigree is as rarified as his entrepreneurial vision; he’s the son of Swedish Ambassador Count Wilhelm Wachtmeister and Countess Ulla Wachtmeister. Neither is he new to the invitation-only game, having launched A Small World in 2004, which was quickly outmaneuvered by Facebook and ridiculed as “Snobster.”
The New York Post reported a May breakfast meeting between Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss at the Regency where surely the conversation included common arch rival Facebook. “Facebook is about vanity, not really utility, and the noise from the past. Best of all Worlds is about utility and the present and the future in a trusted environment,” said Wachtmeister. “Now is an incredible time to do this because there is something missing. Facebook does a lot of good things for a lot of people, but I think it leaves a lot to be done by others.”
As the democratization of the web grows and reshapes all aspects of life on planet earth, including headline-grabbing alternative App.net, open to all for $50 a year, only time will tell if Best of All Worlds is the model of filtered access that will indeed make it a better world, and if, as Wachtmeister espouses, the wisdom of the privileged, outshines the wisdom of the crowds.