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There’s the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, for financiers, the Sun Valley retreat for media moguls, and Renaissance Weekend for the political set. Then there’s a range of TED offshoots and wannabes, from EG and TEDMED, both started and later sold by Wurman, to the ultra-hip techie fests such as South by Southwest, PopTech, and Techonomy. Wurman will add another three to the mix in the next three years: Prophesy 2025, the Geeks and Geezers Summit, and FEDMED.
The business model of hosting conferences has become increasingly appealing to various business sectors, particularly the media industry, as newspapers, hit by a downturn in advertising, look for new ways to squeeze money out of their brands. To the attendees who pay four to five figures to attend, sometimes six for premium tickets, and to the invitees who agree to be the bait for those who pay, the lure is the promise of being on the cutting edge of a new thought, one that hasn’t yet been committed to the internet or spread virally on social networks.