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When you think of the name of that little Alp ski town all those world leaders are gathering in this week, you probably think it’s pronounced Davos, with the emphasis on the first syllable (“DA-vos”).That’s because you’re a clueless American.
It’s actually pronounced “da-VOS,” with the emphasis on the second syllable.
How did I learn that?
Because in Munich, I told a German I was heading to Davos (“DA-vos”), and he snickered and said it was “da-VOS.”
Of course, being American, in addition to being clueless, you’re probably also arrogant — arrogant enough to think that the name of the place you’re going is pronounced the way YOU pronounce it, so as far as you’re concerned, it’s DAvos.
And as far as I’m concerned, it’s DAvos.
So, suck it, Germans.
Anyway, I’ve arrived in DAvos. In a snowstorm. And I’ve discovered something. The DAvos police don’t like having huge telephoto lenses shoved in their faces.
They have a job to do, these DAvos police — keeping out terrorists who want to blow up world leaders. So they don’t take too kindly to having things pointed at them that might be guns.
We're starting in Munich, in a fabulous room at the Bayerischer Hof (courtesy of DLD, another conference, where I just moderated a panel). It just snowed.
But we're riding in a brand-spanking new Audi A8. Audi sponsored DLD, so I've gotten quite used to riding around in brand new A8s. And we're being chauffered. And there's a world leader in the back. OK, not EXACTLY a world leader, but a high-ranking executive of a massive multinational who has paid a BOATLOAD of money to go to Davos. The executive demands anonymity in exchange for sharing the truth about Davos. I grant it.
I hung out in the Congress centre most of last year's Davos, by the way, and I didn't find it to be the place where the spouses hang out. I thought it was awesome. You sit in a chair, eat fabulous free food, and watch CEOs and central bankers and Russian presidents and world-famous economists flow by. And, when you feel like it, you say hello. And they pretend to not be annoyed by you! For example, the former vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs walked by. He was relaxed and smiling. (Because he's safe here.)
Eventually, on the way to Davos, you start seeing mountains. And they are extremely cool-looking mountains--that shoot right up out of the fields.
Pretty soon, the mountains start getting serious. And there's snow on them. And those cute little brown houses with the flattish roofs.
We pass through villages. Like Kublis. Where they're trucking away the snow because there's already several feet of it, and there's no place to put the new stuff.
And you go through long mountain tunnels. In the middle of this mountain tunnel, by the way, the executive in the back told me that, way back in 2001, when Apple's stock was trading for single-digits and Steve Jobs' turnaround hadn't really kicked in, a private-equity firm called Silver Lake tried to orchestrate a management buyout of the company at $6 a share. But Steve Jobs wanted 50% of the equity. And Silver Lake thought that was too greedy. So they told Steve to stuff it.
Is that story about Steve and the management-buyout true? I don't know. But it's a fun story, no? Imagine buying all of Apple for $6 a share! After Kublis, you hit the Klosters bypass--a new road that avoids your having to crawl through the only street in the town of Klosters, which is just below Davos. Klosters, by the way, is where you stay when you get shafted and don't get a hotel room in Davos. It's about 20 minutes away by bus.
And then there's the last police-check before you hit the REALLY SERIOUS SECURITY in Davos itself (Seriously. It's wall-to-wall polizei and metal detectors).
I snapped a picture of this dude with a machine gun as we rolled up. His partner, on the other side of the car, was not happy. Cameras, he lectured our driver, were for taking pictures of mountains, not Polizei. He gave me the hairy eyeball. Then he waved us through.
By some weird twist of karma that I'm sure I'll pay for later, I got dropped off first--before the executive (who is staying in a chalet he rented). And there it is, the Club Hotel, my Davos home. It's your standard ski hotel--no frills--quite a change from the Bayerischer Hof. And a small single room on the fourth floor is mine for 5 nights (minimum stay). And it's only $750 a night!
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