On my first day at the World Economic Conference in Davos, Switzerland, I was checking email in a lounge at the main conference center when I spotted Benchmark Capital's Matt Cohler and Owen Van Natta of MySpace. I told them I wanted to say hello but that my overarching goal for the conference was to NOT spend too much time with Internet people. "How's that working out for you?" Van Natta asked. "Not so well," I replied.
Indeed, my hotel, an undistinguished but totally adequate three-star lodge a 20-minute walk from the center of the action, is something of the Internet and academic ghetto. In the lobby I've regularly bumped into Max Levchin of Slide, TechCrunch's Michael Arrington, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and Ning's Gina Bianchini, among others. Thursday morning I shared a shuttle bus from the hotel with Elizabeth Useem, wife of Wharton scholar Michael and mom of my former Fortune colleague Jerry.
As the week progressed I met plenty of people without connections to Silicon Valley or Fortune Magazine. On a shuttle bus to the conference I was seated next to a man in flowing orange robes who teased me for commenting on how cold it was. He wore neither boots nor gloves and explained to me that in his home in Nepal there is no heat. His name was Matthieu Ricard, and among other things he is a translator for the Dalai Lama. This was a true Davos experience.
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