Why Skipping Davos Is This Year's True Status SymbolS

How a conference dies: The savvy crowd stays away, while eager second-raters fill their seats. Google cofounder Sergey Brin is skipping Davos. Meanwhile, MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe fought with a colleague to go amid layoffs.

The World Economic Forum, known as Davos for the Swiss mountain resort where it's held, is more notable for who's not going to the glitzy, star-studded affair. Only the organizers pretend that the purpose of the event is to hold lofty sessions about global economics, the intellectual fig leaf which covers the schmoozing and boozing.

Here's a list of the true elite — the people smart enough to drop out of Davos, via Portfolio:

  • Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack
  • Google cofounder Sergey Brin
  • Chevron CEO David O'Reilly
  • Ken Griffin of hedge fund Citadel Investments
  • Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein
  • Citigroup CEO Vikram Pandit
  • Sony CEO Howard Stringer

If they're not going, why is DeWolfe so determined? A tipster tells us he feuded with his ostensible boss, Fox Interactive Media chief Peter Levinsohn, over his Davos trip. Levinsohn reportedly thought it was a terrible idea; Fox Interactive Media, the News Corp. unit which includes MySpace, just laid off 100 employees, and we hear MySpace is prepping 300 layoffs of its own, including the possible closure of its recently opened San Francisco office. (An engineer MySpace was recruiting in San Francisco was abruptly told in the middle of the process that the job he was interviewing had moved to the Los Angeles headquarters, not San Francisco.)

No matter! DeWolfe will get his photos taken with world leaders, celebrities, and the cluster of kooky hangers-on like Julia Allison and Nouriel Roubini who have wangled their way into the conference. It will certainly reinforce DeWolfe's image, though probably not in the way he anticipated.

(Photo by Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images)