A Brief History of Social Networks for Millionaires

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What, you expect me to join Facebook?Photo: Mary Cybulski/Paramount Pictures

Today brings news of Netropolitan.club, a social network for obnoxious rich people. (Or, as its PR representative puts it, an “exclusive online country club” for “busy individuals, hungry for a place to communicate with like-minded people.”) Netropolitan.club’s founder, James Touchi-Peters, a former conductor of the Minnesota Philharmonic Orchestra, thinks that having a social network to themselves will allow his well-heeled friends to open up about the things that really matter. (“Netropolitan is designed to be the place to talk about your last European vacation or new car without the backlash.”)

Despite how freshly annoying this concept feels, it’s actually not novel at all. Lots of start-ups have tried (and failed) to provide a thriving digital home for the moneyed elite:

2007: “If more proof were needed that the rich are different, it could be found on aSmallWorld.net, an invitation-only social networking site … 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.”

2008: “Total Prestige, an invitation-only networking site for one of the world’s most underserved internet demographics: the super- and super-duper rich … Ten members are billionaires. Most of them come from Europe and the Middle East, and range from royalty and entrepreneurs to entertainers. To get an idea of what these folks are blogging about: One recent post seeks advice for avoiding pirates while yachting up the African coastline.”

2008: “Diamond Lounge just launched, so it’s still small enough to browse through literally every public profile on the whole social network. So far, it looks like DL is hitting what it aims for: there are hedge fund managers, VCs, and CEOs mixed in with photographers and creatives, and nearly every profile puts a heavy emphasis on world traveling and fluency in various languages.

2009: “Affluence.org is free, but … Membership requires a verified net worth of at least $3 million or an annual household income of $300,000. If you don’t qualify, there is one other way to join: convince at least five wealthy folks to vouch for you. ‘It’s Facebook for the filthy rich,’ said Palm Harbor’s Scott Mitchell, the site’s founder, president and chief executive officer.”

2012: “TopCom is a highly secure private social network, a sort of ‘combination Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, texting, and Skype’ for ‘the people who run the world,’ according to Esquire. In other words, it’s like an electronic, year-round version of the obnoxiously self-important annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, where TopCom will be launched later this week.

2012: “Luxury Social Networking sites Qube and Elysiants have now joined forces and become the most exclusive international social network for high net worth individuals on the planet.”

2013: “It sounds like a Rolodex for the 1 percent: two million deal makers, power brokers and business executives — not only their names, but in many cases the names of their spouses and children and associates, their political donations, their charity work and more — all at a banker’s fingertips. Such is the promise of a new company called Relationship Science.”

Ever get the feeling that rich people just don’t want to be around us?