From being split between the WEF event and the various private parties elsewhere in the city, the focus on Davos is shifting back to the main event
Andrew Ross Sorkin has placed himself on the party beat at Davos: since nothing has happened yet, the main thing to report is that everybody’s Friday-night dance card is looking pretty forlorn. The Google party being canceled we could live with, but the cancellation of the Accel party is bigger news—people really loved that one. Yahoo’s cocktail party early in the evening isn’t going to make up the difference, and Sean Parker’s nightclub event, while surely hard to get in to, is certainly going to turn into the kind of loud and overcrowded sausage party that makes you wonder why you even wanted to go there in the first place.
Sorkin’s headline asks whether the Davos party is over. The answer is no, of course—but it can be interesting to keep an eye on the permanent tension between the World Economic Forum, on the one hand, and Davos more generally, on the other. The two are generally considered interchangeable, which annoys the WEF no end: the vision of Klaus Schwab is for a pretty austere conference taking place at the Conference Center, with little or nothing going on in the rest of town. But of course no self-respecting global organisation is going to pass up this annual opportunity to impress thousands of plutocrats by any means necessary.
The result is endless and futile overt and covert strong-arming by the WEF to (a) try to minimise the number of non-WEF events in Davos; and (b) try to ensure that insofar as non-WEF events are certainly going to happen, at least they don’t clash too badly with the formal WEF programme. And since the covert strong-arming wasn’t working very well, the WEF is getting more overt, with a very detailed Code of Conduct that they make all participants agree to when they register for the conference.
“Concern is growing,” explains the Code, “that the unique and special nature of the Annual Meeting is being jeopardised by behaviour and activities contrary to the ‘spirit of Davos’”. As a result, everybody here is “expected to respect the non-commercial nature of the event”; “avoid organising private events or functions that conflict with the programme of the Annual Meeting”; and “not extend invitations to guests who are not registered participants in the Annual Meeting”.