Courtesy of an infographic by Visual.ly
Jim Gold has a sweater he’s worn a hundred times, and it still looks new.
It’s a classic V-neck with a ribbed hem and cuffs.
Most guys’ wardrobes include a couple of these pullovers, usually one in navy or gray. It’s a piece that gets a lot of wear over the fall and winter. After a year or two, the pilings get bad enough that a wife, mother or close friend replaces it with a new one in a gift-wrapped box at Christmas.
Gold, who is stores division president of Dallas-based Neiman Marcus Group, says his sweater is at least 8 years old and doesn’t need replacing. The sweater is cashmere, a Brunello Cucinelli, that’s made in Italy and retails at Neiman Marcus for $645.
Plenty of cashmere sweaters can be bought elsewhere for $99 or less, he said, but after you wear one four or five times, it will start to look shabby.
Gold is building a case for luxury, a term he says is batted around too loosely these days.
“Too many companies and brands claim to be in the luxury business. They aren’t following the strict definition.”
At Neiman Marcus, the litmus test is quality, scarcity and longevity — a product that can stand the test of time, Gold said. “That’s our core business.”
“An important part of what we do every day is to educate people about our products. Neiman Marcus merchandise doesn’t cost more because we unilaterally decide to charge more. Quantities are in smaller numbers because there’s more craftsmanship and a whole lot of talent behind creating things.”
The core Neiman Marcus customer already knows that.
But a broader base of customers is evolving, and some shoppers are a harder sell, said Pam Danziger, president of Unity Marketing, a Pennsylvania-based research firm that focuses on the affluent shopper.
“I would disagree with that value proposition. I don’t think the consumer is buying that story. You can still buy a cashmere V-neck sweater that’s just as good at $300, and there are more premium brands out there now, like a J.Crew, that are fine quality and last a long time.”
Danziger believes there’s been a shift in the makeup of the luxury consumer market. Based on her ongoing tracking study of affluent Americans, households with income levels of $100,000 to $249,999 — known as the Henrys, for high earners, not rich yet — aren’t playing as big a role in luxury spending as they did before the recession.
“They shop everywhere, and they view themselves as middle class. They shop at Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus, but they shop widely and they are the heavy lifters in the overall economy. They also shop at J.C. Penney and Costco and Wal-Mart and Macy’s and the dollar stores, and on occasion they shop at Neiman Marcus.”
The Henry factor
The Henrys, an acronym coined by Fortune magazine writer Shawn Tully, are a key demographic for luxury retailers because future ultra-affluent customers usually start out as Henrys.
The top 2 percent of the ultra-affluent households, with incomes above $250,000, and the top 1 percent, with annual incomes of more than $380,000, don’t have huge buying power as a group because there aren’t as many of them, she said. There are about 2.9 million in those two categories, and 1.2 million are in the 1 percent.
The Henrys have big numbers, with about 21.6 million U.S. households.
In late 2010 and early 2011, Danziger predicted that the post-recession U.S. market could no longer support the large number of stores that resulted from the pre-recession boom in luxury.
This year and last year, Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys New York closed multiple stores in Texas and throughout the U.S. Last summer, even Neiman Marcus closed a full-line store, its only one in Minneapolis.
The Neiman Marcus children's department includes unique gifts such as a Lamborghini battery-operated kid's-size black convertible for $395 and wooden doll houses priced at $250 and $350. (Click Image To Enlarge)
Another post-recession year is coming to an end.
With just weeks left in the holiday shopping season, Americans, on average, now estimate they will spend $740 on Christmas gifts, according to a poll from Gallup on Thursday. That is in between consumers’ more positive October estimate of $786 and their less positive November estimate of $704.
The December estimate puts the season’s increase in the range of 2.3 percent to 2.7 percent, below the industry’s estimate from the National Retail Federation of a 3.9 percent increase.
That means that as a whole, Americans are operating with more of a recessionary mind-set than one inspired by the soaring stock market or recent reports of improved economic growth, Gallup said.
Research and consulting firm Bain & Co. estimates that the U.S. luxury personal goods market, which doesn’t include cars, boats and travel, will grow 7 percent this year to $95 billion. Bain also forecast that worldwide holiday sales of personal luxury goods will be up a modest 2 percent, but it didn’t break out the U.S.
Unity Marketing polled 1,208 affluent consumers with average household income of $267,100 in early October about expectations for future luxury spending over the next 12 months. Only 20 percent of those surveyed plan to spend more, down from 31 percent a year ago, Danziger said.
Also at Neiman’s …
While Neiman Marcus continues to cater to the wealthiest consumers, Gold said there are plenty of ways that people with lower incomes can experience the store, by buying a $25 lipstick or a $200 pair of jeans that really fit.
“It’s like driving a Porsche. Once you do, you don’t want to drive a Volkswagen.”
Steven Dennis, founder of SageBerry Consulting and a former Neiman Marcus senior vice president, said there’s more complexity to the luxury consumer than retailers like to talk about.
“If you grew up in a middle-class family, you went to someplace like Macy’s for your nice stuff, then you’re working for a hedge fund or you become a doctor and you can step up. It’s not obvious to you right away why you should spend $4,000 for a nice suit.”
Gold says Neiman Marcus will continue to cater to the highest-end customer in the world. But for most who aren’t in that group but have the good fortune to come into some money, say with a new job starting out that pays $75,000, there are still plenty of ways to experience Neiman Marcus, he said, “if we’re doing our job right.”
By the way, here's the Neiman Marcus Christmas Book for 2013.
Follow Maria Halkias on Twitter at @MariaHalkias.
COMMENTARY: According to research from the private wealth division of Citibank, the average shopper at Neiman Marcus has household income of $250,000 per annum. The average Nordstrom customer, in contrast, earns $100,000 each year.
That means the average Neiman Marcus customer earns roughly $20,834 before taxes and, with standard deductions, probably $15,000 in take-home pay each month. The average Nordstrom customer, in contrast, earns $100,000 each year, or $8,334 gross per month, which results in $6,000 net after tax deductions and payments.
Both shoppers are considerably higher than the $50,000 annually earned by the average American household and the $35,000 earned by the average Wal-Mart shopper. Put another way, if you shop at Nordstrom you likely earn 2x the average American family and if you shop at Neiman Marcus, you likely earn 5x the average American family.
If you are a doctor, an attorney, a wealthy business owner, or a bank president, your wardrobe is incredibly important. It instantly conveys to prospective clients that you are successful and good at what you do. It is a symbol that instantly communicates without words. Furthermore, your wardrobe is going to last probably an average of 3-5 years rolling. That means that you could amortize the cost in accounting terms.
If you compare Neman Marcus and Whole Foods customers, you will find some similarities and some succinct differences between them.
Twenty cities have more than 100,000 millionaires – but which has most? And where do the world's billionaires live?
Where do the world's wealthiest individuals live? Well, it depends if you're talking millionaires, multi-millionaires or billionaires, according to a new list of the global rich.
Tokyo may contain the most millionaires (US$), however London is the city with the highest number of multi-millionaires - defined as individuals with over $30m each. For the fattest of the fat cats, though, look to New York where 70 billionaires have made their home - or maybe one of their many global homes.
The ranking of top global cities for millionaires, multi-millionaires and billionaires has been compiled by London based wealth consultancy WealthInsight using five years of data analysed by their team. So what insights can we glean from this latest rich list?
Great location-based data like this, however, often makes more sense displayed on a map. With Mapsdata, and thanks to the data being available alongside the article, it took us just a few minutes to create the interactive data visualizations below, and map the cities with the most millionaires and billionaires.
The world’s millionaires:
The world's billionaires:
COMMENTARY: It does not surprise me that Tokyo, Japan has the most millionaires. You have to be a millionaire just to live there. And it does not surprise me that the New York City has the most billionaires. After all, New York City is the financial capital of the world. The place where millions are made and lost in one day.
AN INVENTIVE TAKE ON AN OLD SPACE GOES WELL BEYOND THE TYPICAL LANDMARK RESTORATION.
The American Tract Society Building is one of the oldest surviving skyscrapers in NYC. Tucked away inside is a four-story, 6,500-foot expanse with full panoramic views of the city. It had never been inhabited, until now.
It's whimsical and austere. The original arched windows and many of the original steel beams stayed intact, but the verticality has been transformed with bold, playful features. Hotson has said that he wanted to “constantly exploit the fact that we’re sitting on top of a skyscraper in Manhattan.”
And while a glance at the dizzying array of beams hanging overhead demonstrates that idea, it’s a concept taken to new heights with an 80-foot slide that snakes straight into the living room, a clear bridge that appears to float in midair, and handholds that allow you to climb a central support beam like a rock wall. If you make it part way up, you can lounge in the “nest,” an intimate nook squeezed within the structure’s girders. From there you can keep climbing to an almost attic-style space.
But the slide is just one way to have fun. Handholds accent one of the main beams, coaxing you to climb up. If you’re bold enough, you’ll reach the "nest," a space tucked in between girders (Click Image To Enlarge)
Of course, what you miss in these still photos are the incredible facets and “voids”--the geometric frames within frames that connect rooms like fractals. There’s some stunning camera work in the embedded video that illustrates these moments better than words can, and they reveal a level of design thinking that transcends what one might otherwise pigeonhole as an 80-foot-long gimmick.
But I mean, what a gimmick!
COMMENTARY: I just love this penthouse apartment. It is so different, so radical in its design, conjures feelings of heaven, living in the clouds. That 80-foot slide looks like a lot of fun. I don't know if I could master the art of rock climbing in order to go up from one level to the next. That's probably the biggest negative, but it also says, that for every pleasure, there must be some pain. I love New York City. There is no city anywhere like it in the world. And to be able to cherish the grandeur, majestry, culture and skyline of the city from an old turn-of-the-century skyscraper is simply magical. I can visualize myself sitting in the "nest" surfing the net for my next blog post, while sipping a glass of cab with toast and jam.
The architect that redesigned this magnificent New York City penthouse apartment is David Hotson. David Hotson was born in Pennsylvania and raised in rural Colorado and southern Ontario Canada. After completing a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree from the University of Waterloo, where he was awarded an Ontario Association of Architects Prize, David applied to the Yale University School of Architecture –where he was admitted the following fall.
Early Work and Collaborations: In the first years of independent practice David Hotson began a long period of collaborations with Yale classmate Maya Lin, acting as the executive architect on a series of projects that she attracted as her Vietnam Veterans Memorial –designed while she was an undergraduate at Yale- was completed to wide acclaim. Early projects included the Museum for African Art in SoHo, a suite of offices and galleries for the Asia/Pacific-American Institute at New York University, and an apartment for software entrepreneur and art-world philanthropist Peter Norton.
From these early collaborative experiences the office has developed an extensive track record of working in association with artists, designers, and other architects to execute projects with demanding detailing and progressive design values. The body of collaborative work undertaken by the office has included projects with noted architects such as David Adjaye of London, Santiago Calatrava of Valencia and Zurich, Hayaki Kita of Osaka, and Ricardo Legorretta of Mexico City, and other architects, artists, and designers based in the US, the UK, the Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Switzerland, Hungary, Armenia, and Japan.
Born in the Netherlands and raised in South Africa, Ghislaine brings a special blend of international sensibility, intuitive style, humor, irony and refreshing enthusiasm to her work. She is driven daily by her passion for interior design and especially by color. Ghislaine and her team thrive on collaboration and although the backbone of their work is a strong clean refreshing look, they dare to go "off roading" by experimenting with and exploring many areas of design.
Ghislaine Viñas established her interior design studio in 1999, when commissioned to do the complete build-out of a 9,000-sq-ft office/art gallery in the Starrett Lehigh Building in New York's Chelsea art district. Since then she has successfully completed many projects, both commercial and residential, ranging from New York City, including apartments, townhouses, lofts and an art gallery in Chelsea, to offices and homes in Los Angeles, New Jersey, Holland, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Ghislaine has chosen to keep her office small so her clients can expect a very “hands -on” personal approach as she works through the project. Ghislaine Viñas Interior Design embarked on their first hospitality project in 2012 and they are currently developing a product line on top of many other exciting design projects.
Ghislaine Viñas Interior Design was awarded the Interior Design Merit Award for "Best of Year" in the residential category in 2007, 2008 and 2011 and won Interior Design Best of Year award in 2010. In 2007 she won the Pantone "Color Outside the Lines" competition for color use in residential interiors , as well receiving third place in the Electrolux, "The lived-in Kitchen", design competition and honorable mention in the same competition in 2012. The firm was awarded the prestigious Benjamin Moore Hue award in 2010 for their use of color in residential interiors. Ghislaine has been featured on various TV programs including HGTV, Open House New York and IDTV “Designing New York”.
Ghislaine's work has graced the covers of countless magazines and she has been published in magazines and newspapers worldwide including Interior Design, New York Times, New York Magazine, Departures, Frame, O At Home, Dwell, Elle Decor Japan, England and Mexico as well as Architectural Digest in Russia just to name a few.
Ghislaine studied interior design at Philadelphia University and moved to New York right after receiving her degree. Ghislaine now lives in New York City with her husband and their two young girls.
Courtesy of an article dated March 26, 2013 appearing in Fast Company Design
After almost a year of eager anticipation and speculation, Ferrari’s ultimate supercar (previously known as F70 and F150), the successor to the 288 GTO, F40, F50, and Enzo, is here. It’s called LaFerrari, but don’t let the strange name fool you. As previous reports have stated, it will be a hybrid. It will also be Ferrari’s fastest ever road car.
Let’s start with that hybrid powertrain. It consists of a 6.3-liter V12, two electric motors, and a 132-pound battery pack mounted to the floor. One electric motor is coupled to the car’s seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transaxle, the other is used to power accessories.By itself, the V12 produces 789 horsepower. The electric motor adds 161 hp, for a grand total of 951 hp and 664 pound-feet of torque.
The LaFerrari's HY-KERS powertrain system includes a 6.3-liter V12 engine that puts out 963 bhp at 900 Nm torque, ad incudes two electric motors, and a 132-pound battery pack mounted to the floor (Click Images To Enlarge)
Ferrari calls its hybrid system HY-KERS, for Hybrid Kinetic Energy Recovery System. KERS is used in Formula 1 to give cars an extra boost of acceleration and, since Ferrari is known for applying F1 tech to road cars, it’s fitting that the Prancing Horse’s first hybrid uses this system.
The batteries are recharged under braking and when the electric motor is generating excess torque (during cornering, for example). Unlike the McLaren P1, there is no electric-only mode. Instead, Ferrari tuned the gasoline engine to run at high revs, allowing the electric motor to cover the low end for consistent power delivery.
Other F1 influences are apparent in the design. The futuristic ducted bodywork probably won’t win any beauty contests, but its carbon fiber skin is manufactured using the process Ferrari uses for its F1 cars. There are also plenty of splitters, diffusers, and even an underbody guide vane to direct airflow.
The LaFerrari’s entire chassis is made of carbon fiber, which means the V12 and electric motor won’t have much weight to push around. Ferrari was able to achieve a near-perfect 41/59 percent front/rear weight distribution. The battery pack’s position also gives the LaFerrari a low center of gravity.
On the inside, F1 drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa reportedly helped lay out the driving position. Since space in the cockpit is tight, each car will be tailored to its owner, moving the pedals and steering wheel for a proper fit.
That all sounds impressive, but what about the numbers? Is this hybrid really a supercar? On paper, the answer is yes. Ferrari says the LaFerrari will reach 62 mph (100 kph) in less than three seconds and eclipse the 200 mph mark.
The LaFerrari is also the new record holder at Ferrari’s Fiorano test track. Its lap of 1:20 beat the Enzo by five seconds and the previous record holder, the F12berlinetta, by three seconds.
Production will be limited to 499 units, all of which have been spoken for already, despite a price tag of roughly $1 million.
From its high tech powertrain to its insane price, the LaFerrari pushes the limits of adjectives, but what else would you expect from Ferrari? Still, is it too late to change its name?
COMMENTARY: I just love the new Ferrari LaFerrari. It's more modernistic, sleeker and more beastly as a Ferrari should be. Takes you back to the F-1 and Boxer eras. The huge front engine and side scoops tells you that the LaFerrari means business, and it fits the role. The wrap-around windows give the driver 360 degrees of clear visibility. A skilled driver can take the LaFerrari 900 horsepower from 0-60 in under 3 seconds from a standing start. Only 499 are being built, and even though the LaFerrari sells for $1 million a pop, there are no shortage of buyers. They are already soldout. For you exotic car techies, here are the complete specifications:
Courtesy of an article dated March 5, 2013 appearing in Digital Trends
This motion graphic is on the distribution of wealth in America, highlighting both the inequality and the difference between our perception of inequality and the actual numbers. The reality is often not what we think it is.
COMMENTARY: If you think capitalism is working, then you have to look at the above video infographic of America's distribution of wealth. We are basically a nation of paupers with a middle class that is being squeezed as never before. If the idea was to lower wages to the point where it is difficult to make an honest living or buy luxuries or even own a home, then capitalism is definitely not working. When you have this type of wealth distribution inequality, you are really asking for problems. We used to be a nation of consumers, but if the above trend continues, you have to ask yourself, who is going to buy what we produce? No wonder employment is high, employers got used to not hiring people following the slow recovery after the Great Recession. Now they are about to find out that there are simply not enough buyers for what we produce. With the potential for even smaller consumption of goods and services, we could be at a tipping point leading to another recession.
Courtesy of an infographic designed by Visual.ly
The initial public offering of the world’s biggest social network, which raised $16 billion on May 17, is contributing to surging real estate demand in Silicon Valley’s tech enclaves and bolstering values amid scarce inventory. The median price of a home sold in Menlo Park jumped 8.5 percent to $1.19 million in the first quarter, according to research firm DataQuick.
According to MLS Listing Inc, home listings in Menlo Park, California, had fallen 9 percent during the 12 months ending April 2012, the month prior to the huge Facebook IPO. After the Facebook IPO, there are insufficient homes for sale to meet the needs of the new crop of Facebook and other Silicon Valley millionaires.
Jim Harrison, chief executive officer of MLS Listings, a Sunnyvale, California-based publisher of home listings for San Mateo and Santa Clara counties in the heart of the Valley said.
“The market was already hot, and now there’s more pent-up demand. Buyers are going nuts, but sellers are holding back.”
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) stock, which has fallen over 26 percent since its IPO, is only one factor fueling wealth creation, said Michael Dreyfus, founder of Dreyfus Properties, a brokerage with offices in Menlo Park and the neighboring city of Palo Alto. Hiring at Apple Inc. and Google Inc., as well as law and finance firms, has yielded a “very broad-based and healthy” surge in real estate, he said on Bloomberg Television’s ’’Bottom Line’’ on May 23.
A “savvy bunch of sellers” has purposely kept their homes off the market in desirable areas in anticipation of the IPO, Dreyfus said. Listings haven’t been this scarce at this time of year since 2005, when house prices neared peak values, said Theresa Dreike, an MLS Listings spokeswoman.
Stephanie Seeger, 39, a potential home buyer said.
“With so many people looking and so few homes available, the market is squeezed and sellers can get whatever they want.”
She and her husband bid $86,000 over the asking price to win a four-bedroom home with about 2,300 square feet (214 square meters) in Menlo Park’s Willows neighborhood. The $1.88 million purchase is scheduled to close today, she said.
Across the U.S., a scarcity of homes for sale is boosting property values, from foreclosure-stricken Florida and Arizona to more robust markets in Texas and coastal California. Home listings totaled 2.54 million in April, the lowest for the month since 2005, according to National Association of Realtors.
Waiting It Out
In hard-hit areas, people who owe more than their homes are worth, known as negative equity, are crimping supply by refusing to unload their property at a loss, said Stan Humphries, chief economist of Seattle-based real estate service Zillow Inc. Sellers in Silicon Valley, on the other hand, are motivated by maximizing price and can afford to wait as job growth and the economy improve, he said.
Home values in the U.S. should be “modestly stronger” by the end of the year, rising about 3 percent, Barclays Plc analysts in New York said in a May 23 note. All nine regions in a Federal Housing Finance Agency housing index showed price gains in March. The gauge climbed 2.7 percent from a year earlier, the biggest increase since November 2006.
Humphries said in an interview.
“You’ve got a lot of people with negative equity who want to sell but can’t, and people in affluent areas choosing not to sell. A pattern of materially stronger demand is emerging, but there’s a big constraint on supply.”
Cupertino, Palo Alto
In Cupertino, home to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), inventory this year through April fell 15 percent, and new listings dropped for the 10th time in 12 months, MLS Listings said. Prices climbed 2 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier to $1.1 million, according to San Diego-based DataQuick. In Facebook’s former home of Palo Alto, adjacent to Stanford University, new listings declined for the 11th month, and prices jumped 22 percent to $1.6 million.
Facebook announced in February 2011 that it would move to an empty Menlo Park office campus in a lease deal that was the area’s largest in 20 years. The 1 million-square-foot complex, dubbed 10 Hacker Way, was followed by a $250 million renovation that’s still under way. About 2,400 employees work there.
Menlo Park, a favored locale for affluent San Francisco residents from the mid-19th century to build summer homes, retains a discrete, modest feel in the shadow of Palo Alto and Atherton, its wealthier neighbor to the north, said Captain Tom Calvert of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District.
The city has restrictions on renovations and remodels, said Penelope Huang, owner of RE/Max Distinctive Properties and an MLS Listings board member. It doesn’t allow non-retail signage for new businesses on Santa Cruz Avenue, the commercial corridor, and a 1979 Heritage Tree Ordinance protects any living tree with a diameter of 15 inches or more, she said. Cutting one down is against the law.
Purchases of Menlo Park’s most expensive properties, more than $2 million, rose 75 percent this year through May 8 compared with the same period in 2011, to 28 homes, said Mark Church, assessor and recorder for San Mateo County.
Demand in Menlo Park may be limited among Facebook employees who aren’t ready to purchase property or don’t want suburban homes, said Michelle Taser of Dreyfus Properties.
Taser, showing a four-bedroom house with 3,070 square feet on Sherman Avenue in West Menlo Park, where the original owners raised two children after acquiring the property in 1993 said.
“They’re kids and want to live in San Francisco. They want to buy cars and drink beer.”
About 47 percent of Facebook workers participate in its commuter program, taking bus shuttles, trains or ride-sharing cars to the campus from San Francisco and other cities in the region, said Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for the company.
Taser’s property, priced at $1.99 million, drew large crowds over two weekend days, with only a handful of 125 marketing flyers left over, she said after a Sunday open house. Low inventory in Menlo Park means the sellers plan fewer than two weeks of viewings, she said.
Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, 42, who owns about 27 million Facebook shares and vested restricted stock units, is perhaps the most well-known employee who owns a home in the town. A trust controlled by Sandberg and David Goldberg bought property in Menlo Park in December 2009 that was valued at $2.9 million in its most recent tax assessment, according to public records.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, 28, bought a house in Palo Alto last year.
Some Facebook shares by Facebook workers can’t be sold until six months after the IPO under U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rules. In the meantime, the office campus will generate new commercial-property tax revenue, and retail sales are bound to increase as well, said Church, the county assessor.
Newly-rich Facebook workers seeking to live close to the office may ultimately see the appeal of Menlo Park, he said.
“These new millionaires are waiting to receive their money. We expect that to occur, but we really won’t know the true benefits for another year or so.”
COMMENTARY: Could Facebook millionaires trigger the next real estate bubble? If enough of these young Facebook millionaires buy million dollar homes in Silicon Valley, and that's about what the median prices are in central Silicon Valley, this could produce an unsustainable spike in real estate prices (at least on the high-end). I compare such a scenario to what has happened to that piece of shit, over-hyped, over-valued Facebook stock that came out of the gate at $38.00, but by the end of trading today nose dived to under $27.00. If its any consellation, Facebook shares have since rallied to end the trading day at 29.63, +1.44 or +5.12% from the previous day. I can't explain why Facebook shares rallied so suddenly and so quickly. Could be that investors believe that FB shares had hit their low, and it was time for a rally, or it was Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs providing much needed support to the stock. As soon as I know, you will know.
The world's largest technology IPO is providing not just fees for bankers but fodder for comics. "It's great — now you can lose all your money in the same place you lost all your time," quipped late night comic Jimmy Fallon on the NBC network this week. With Facebook's share price expected by many to crash back down to earth within weeks or even days, the only people guaranteed not to rue their investment are those who bought in while the company was privately held.
We list Facebook's early backers are a potent mix of Silicon Valley insiders, Russian oligarchs, Wall Street financiers – and a pop star called Bono.
Facebook Key Current Employees
Facebook Key Former Employees
Other Notorious Facebook Stakeholders
COMMENTARY: I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog post. It took me a while to put it together. I am not absolutely 100% sure about the number of shares owned by some of the above investors, current and former Facebook employees and other lucky individuals who made out during the IPO. Several of them probably cashed-out some or all all of their stakes in the secondary market or sold them to angel investors, hedge funds, mutual fun firms, VC firms or wealthy individuals prior to the IPO, so I hope you will forgive me if I made a few mistakes. All of the above re now multi-millionaires or billionaires. Isn't capitalism great?!!
At first Tommy Gallagher kept busy by answering phones for a suicide hot line. He taught personal finance and current events for a local center for the elderly; he enrolled in continuing-ed classes at theNew School. Gallagher says.
“One day you’re on top. The next you’re just the third guy on line at the Korean deli.”
On 9/11, Gallagher was still a reigning prince on Wall Street, the vice chairman of CIBC World Markets, a major investment-banking firm. One month later, its offices (and business) having been damaged in the attack on the World Trade Center, he was fired. He was a millionaire many times over but also, at age 56, unemployed for the first time since he was a teenager.
“You lose everything when you lose your job. Your whole social network disappears.”
He read the newspaper front to back. He began training for the New York City marathon. Yet he remained stuck largely in a dizzying, disoriented state of existential confusion.
“I’d tell myself, O.K., I just ran eight miles. And then I’d think, O.K., now what do I do with the other 22 hours in the day?”
Salvation came improbably in the form of a support group for multimillionaires called Tiger 21. Proving that he had at least $10 million in the bank, the minimum needed to join, was easy enough: he had that and then some, as well as the equity he had built up in a place on the Upper East Side and a second home in the Hamptons. And he passed muster with existing members, who, like Gallagher, the Brooklyn-born son of a tollbooth operator, tend to be self-made. So in the spring of 2002 Gallagher wrote his first check for $20,000 to cover the annual cost of belonging to a group that now operates 14 support circles for the superwealthy. Gallagher says.
“I was dying for some place I could go and share my angst and fears with other people."
That kind of sharing was not what Jake Jacobson sought when he joined Tiger 21 in 2004. Like Gallagher, Jacobson, a former partner at the consulting firm Bain & Company, had no problem proving he was rich enough to belong. Nor was he troubled by the annual dues, which had risen to $25,000. These were business expenses, really, for someone who figured he was joining a kind of Beardstown Ladies investment club — only its membership wasn’t grandmothers from Middle America but entrepreneurs with tens of millions of dollars in the bank and a nose for deals.
“I was willing to join in the hopes that at the very least I would meet people who would become useful resources. I was also hoping I would get a chance to look at some interesting money-making opportunities I might not otherwise have seen.”
He would not be disappointed. But with time, Jacobson, who was feeling isolated working out of his home in Cambridge, Mass., has come to appreciate some of the other benefits of sitting around Tiger 21’s conference table 11 times a year for eight hours at a time under the guidance of a professional facilitator. Jacobson says.
“When one is successful, most people look at you and say, 'You don’t have problems.’ In the grand scheme of things, I suppose that might be true, but it’s unhelpful. Because I still have to live my life, and I have problems.”
Certainly his fellow Tiger 21 members were there for him during a regular monthly session earlier this year, when Jacobson was beating himself up over a few bad investments. A dozen or so men sat around the table on the top floor of a handsome six-story brownstone steps from Fifth Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. One by one, they told him how happy and centered he seemed and how well he was doing financially, even though he had lost a few hundred thousand dollars playing the stock market during the previous 12 months.
Then, after the last member of the circle had his say, one said.
“We love you, man.”
That caused Jacobson, a stocky man with a round face, to redden. He pursed his lips and, in a little boy’s voice, said,
“I love you too, smoochy.”
Tiger 21 was founded in 1999 by Michael Sonnenfeldt, a blue-eyed, Buddha-loving real estate developer from New Jersey. Then 43 years old, Sonnenfeldt had recently sold his real estate holding company for tens of millions of dollars. What was he supposed to do with all that money, especially in an overheated stock market? He might know plenty about putting together the financing on a big commercial development, but he didn’t feel he had the skills or knowledge, he says, “to take this large corpus of capital and redeploy it into a diverse portfolio.” Sonnenfeldt knew half a dozen men sitting on new-made fortunes. When all of them expressed an interest in meeting regularly, Tiger 21 was born.
Sonnenfeldt’s initial goals for the group are captured by its name, an acronym for the Investment Group for Enhanced Results in the 21st Century, and also by its raison d’Ãªtre, which has not changed much since its founding, even if its core demographic now includes, to his delight, retired chief executives and some folks who are still active on Wall Street. Sonnenfeldt, a large man with closely shorn white hair and the paunch of someone who has done an enviable job of enjoying his wealth, had come into a small fortune years earlier when he cashed out a large real estate project while still in his early 30s, yet he had lost money on poor investments. He was determined not to make the same mistake again.
“We have a lot of people here who have been fantastically successful entrepreneurs, but basically mediocre investors.”
New York, of course, is full of men and women who would happily — some might say greedily — help anyone rich enough to join a group like Tiger 21. The large investment banks, like Goldman Sachs and Merrill Lynch, have entire divisions dedicated to helping the wealthy manage their money. But advice tends to be expensive and also antithetical to the typical Tiger 21 member, a self-made entrepreneur whose net worth is between $50 million and $70 million and for whom jobbing out so essential a task seems to be almost an admission of defeat.
By banding together, the 145 members of Tiger 21, who collectively have a net worth of around $10 billion, according to the organization’s promotional materials, have ensured direct access to big-shot hedge-fund managers and their compatriots in the private equity world.
Yet shortly into the life of Tiger 21, Sonnenfeldt realized that the group needed to be about more than wisely tending to one’s stash of acorns. A man who has just sold his business for $20 million is worried about preserving his wealth but also struggling with the prospects for living off less than $1 million a year when, before the sale, he was spending $3 million annually. Ne’er-do-well kids, nasty divorces, grasping relatives — Sonnenfeldt, a self-described seeker who has practiced meditation on and off throughout his adult life, quickly realized he had to broaden the group’s scope. He had given an equity stake in Tiger 21 to Richard Lavin, an entrepreneur who had spent most of the previous decade running support groups for working chief executives. It fell on Lavin, who led the earliest groups, to create a format that allowed members to explore these more personal issues. The demand for this kind of thing has been so great that there are now nine circles or groups of 12 members each based in New York, and there is one each in Palm Beach, Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego and the San Francisco Bay Area. Additional groups are being formed in New York, San Francisco, Palm Beach and Dallas.
Tiger 21 meetings begin with what those inside the organization call the World Update. Though the label suggests a high-level discussion of international affairs — even if through the prism of each member’s global investments — the discussion, at least on the day I visited, focused mainly on each member’s travels since the last meeting. Myles, a financial adviser with great waves of gray and white hair, leaned back in his chair and, with arms crossed, started things off with the details about his recent trips, first to Cancun, then to India. Ziel Feldman, a real estate investor in his 40s, used most of his time to chronicle his week at a Four Seasons in Mexico. A former executive at a consulting firm read from a note card and described lounging around a resort in Jamaica, which prompted jokes about smoking spliffs on the beach. Others shared with the group tales of trips to the Virgin Islands, the Galapagos and Antarctica, among other far-flung destinations.
Investments made or investments being pondered was another big topic that morning, as were first, second and third homes. One member, who declined to be identified, told the group he had disappointing news: the new house wouldn’t be ready for at least another eight months. The generally prosperous-looking, all-male group around the table — 10 of Tiger 21’s 14 support circles have no women in them — nodded in sympathy while the rumpled speaker sadly accepted their support. Another member, a retired software executive who was calling in via speakerphone from Palm Springs, said he and his wife were trying to decide whether it made sense to purchase vacation property there, given how much they enjoyed the place. Apparently, several members were wondering the same thing, because suddenly the group was debating the merits of owning versus renting second homes in an uncertain real estate market.
It was approaching the lunch hour when a nebbishy-looking man wearing an off-the-rack gray suit was ushered into the room. This was the first of two presenters invited that day to pitch investments to the group. (The morning offering was open to those willing to invest at least $500,000; the afternoon one required a minimum commitment of $2 million.) The first presenter would not have to sell his fund very hard; over the previous decade he had earned annual returns of 21.4 percent from gas and oil pipeline partnerships.
Barry Kaye, a heavy-set insurance salesman who wore a bulky gold watch said.
“Hurry up and leave. We want to talk about you.”
Tommy Gallagher was among those who expressed his appreciation for the presentation of the pipeline partnerships. That prompted groans around the table. “Oh, no, the kiss of death!” one member cried out, eliciting a roar of laughter from the group. Earlier in the day, Gallagher mentioned that two of the investments he made in 2006 had been losers, though stocks generally performed exceedingly well that year. So all day his mates razzed him about his rotten luck — and, if anything, Gallagher only encouraged them, despite the impressive returns he has earned since losing his job in 2001.
Gallagher told me later.
“Sometimes a group needs a punching bag. And for some reason, I was it that day.”
Technically, Gallagher belongs to Group 2, not Group 4. But in recent years he has been helping Michael Sonnenfeldt run Tiger 21 in exchange for an equity stake in an organization that imagines it might one day sell gold-plated medical plans and similar niche products to its members. So Gallagher, who attends four to six group meetings per month, vets new members and, more important, serves as a kind of role model for each support circle as it is forming. One critical component of every Tiger 21 meeting is the Portfolio Defense, which is when members hand out copies of their financial holdings to everyone around the table and brace for an hour or so of feedback. Sonnenfeldt describes the Portfolio Defense on Tiger 21’s Web site as, “A transformative experience that creates unparalleled bonds among members.”
“After achieving a level of trust where they can talk freely about financial matters, members find personal matters easy to share by comparison.”
Gallagher is the first member in each new support circle to submit to a Portfolio Defense.
“I’m the DNA carrier. Everyone in the joint knows how much I’m worth.”
Yet intimacy tends to come easier to Gallagher than to most of his peers. When the man whose new house wasn’t going to be ready for months wistfully spoke of selling his business, Gallagher interjected, “It’s great — for three months.” But his fellow member was having none of it; as it is, he said, he devotes a large portion of his workday to his investments, and as a result, he feels he is shortchanging both his work and his portfolio. Gallagher pressed his view that there is more to life than playing with your money. It’s difficult finding meaning and structure in life without work. But rather than taking up the point, Jake Jacobson instead suggested that Gallagher might be better off devoting more time to his investments, given his recent track record. Again the group burst into laughter and the moment passed.
Perhaps Jacobson should have considered warning his cohort away from his investments. When it was his turn to submit to a Portfolio Defense, he only wished he had better news to share with the group. The year 2005 had been what he described as an “exceptionally good — and lucky — year”; his net worth had swelled 60 percent. But in 2006 his investments fell by 2 percent, largely because of a trio of stocks and a decline in the value of one of his real estate properties.
“My winners couldn’t offset my pukers.”
The details of Jacobson’s holdings were spelled out in a dense handout that had been placed in front of every member. His net worth (he asked me not to reveal the exact amount) was in the tens of millions, yet his spending had been equally prodigious. The living expenses for him and his wife alone exceeded $1 million in 2005. Last year the couple spent $687,000, not including the $400,000 they gave to charity and $2.6 million in taxes. He patted the belly straining his shirt and said he had been overindulging in good food and wines, neither of which, he offered, were doing his health or his bottom line any good. He had enjoyed himself in 2006, but he worried that he was not “smart enough to pick” the right investments.
He confessed glumly.
“I had a really crummy year.”
But his fellow multimillionaires were unswayed. They went around the room, member by member, just as they had done after hearing from the visiting money managers and a lunchtime speaker, an economist. There was talk about bulking up his international holdings but more typical were the comments of Ziel Feldman, who told Jacobson:
“I’ve been listening to you for three years. There’s a certain comfort level that I perceive that I haven’t heard before.”
Another member, Amnon Bar-Tur, whose exotic accent, Van Dyke beard and crinkly eyes give him the air of a count, said:
“It’s very nice how you talk about where you are. We all want to be where you are.”
The exchange was sweet, even loving, but later I mentioned to Bar-Tur that the session with Jacobson had hardly been what you might overhear as a fly on the wall, say, at a group therapy session in a psychologist’s office on the Upper East Side. Jacobson mentioned that he was still buying and selling real estate, yet wondering if he should, as his wife has suggested, try disconnecting completely from the work world to see how it feels. He told the group.
“I’m starting to scratch that itch.”
But the group summarily dismissed this idea. His comrades might have asked if a compulsion was driving him to continue to acquire properties. Or they might have engaged him in a conversation of what is enough. He had told the group that more than anything else, he wanted to enjoy life to its fullest, and sometimes he resented the constant intrusion of business on his daily life. Perhaps he was channeling his wife’s wishes rather than voicing his own — another subject ripe for discussion. But instead of raising this or other issues, his fellow Tiger 21 members offered Oprah-like affirmations that made him feel good but did not get to what seemed core issues.
Bar-Tur did not challenge this characterization. Men as creatures, he said, tend not to talk as easily about personal matters as women. A man can be a lonely character who hides behind his strength.
Yet don’t underestimate the value of what Tiger 21 offers, he said. For several years now, he has watched and listened as his fellow group members have struggled to share their lives with the group. The very act of giving a narrative shape to one’s life story, he said, not only helps the rest of the group better understand that person and his issues and priorities; it also helps the presenter focus on the rationale for decisions he has made and decisions he is considering. That level of depth means the group is uniquely qualified to challenge someone when he is veering off track or dreaming of something that from the perspective of one or more members of the group could prove disastrous.
“A place where you can share your personal challenges and have a really wise group of people who really know you give you their views is a very rare thing in life, And it’s worth a lot. I’ve seen it where the advice we’re giving someone is literally worth millions of dollars.”
COMMENTARY: BTW, according to Tiger 21's website, annual dues for members are now $30,000 per year. There are now 185 members spread amongst 15 separate chapters including New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Miami and Dallas. TIger 21 is also expanding into Washington, D.C. and Chicago.
Whereas investment clubs and groups are where regular investors go to talk about investments and deals, Tiger 21 goes far beyond that. This is where the wealthy power brokers who have already made it go to talk business, investments and increasing one's wealth portfolio.
TIGER 21 believes that 12 heads are better than one. TIGER 21's peer-to-peer 12 person learning group model provides a valuable reference point for decision-making. Each TIGER 21 member brings his or her experience, judgment, wisdom, curiosity, and integrity to the table. The range of expertise and investment styles among members, shared in an environment of trust and transparency, offers members unique insights not found elsewhere.
Collective Intelligence® is also about tapping into fellow members’ personal and professional networks of contacts and resources. Through their working groups, TIGER 21 members have access to a unique group of co-consumers who have thought through, been exposed to, or have experienced similar issues and circumstances. They are in a position to personally recommend advisors, experts and resources to each other—from insurance to lawyers to estate planning.
Michael Sonnenfeldt, TIGER 21 Founder and Member defines Collective Intelligence as follows:
“For complex financial issues, one person can never ask all the possible questions. Fellow members, who know your portfolio, come up with questions you didn’t think of. They can help you explain your situation better or help you get to answers. They are eyes and ears, always looking out for you. That’s Collective Intelligence® in action.”
The net effect of Collective Intelligence®: enhancing each member’s ability to be a prudent manager of wealth.
Tiger 21 also invites a who's who of impressive individuals from the fields of business, finance, investing, economics, life and culture, science, publishing, and other fields to speak at their meetings. They also have Headliner Meetings where very high profile individuals are invited to speak. Past headliners include Steven Forbes, Carl Icahn, former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell,
Truthfully, I wished I had heard more about the personal lives and interests of these multi-millionaires, instead of all the banter of their investment porfolios and how to make a buck. I wonder just how close, besides the common interest in wealth and making money, Tiger 21 members are. Are they they truly close friends outside the Tiger 21 conference room?
Still, I found the discussion of the Portfolio Defense very interesting and intriguing. In life there are very few situations where one would openly disclose his investment portfolio, namely your attorney, banker or wealth management firm. I find it highly unusual for a Tiger 21 member openly and freely present their investment porfolios for scrutinity by individuals that you meet only once or twice a month.
The Portfolio Defense is almost a right of passage, a measuring stick or benchmark, where you disclose to your fellow Tiger 21 members that you still "belong" in the Club. What would happen if a member's porfolio dipped below that $10 million figure? Would they be asked to leave the club or scolded for letting the value of your portfolio plummet below the benchmark.
A member survey by Tiger 21, a peer-to-peer learning group for high-net-worth investors, shows they continue to have concerns about the economy.
Their exposure to public equities averages 21%, well below the historic range of 30% to 35%, and they have 14% of their portfolios in cash, compared to the traditional range of 5% to 10%.
Michael Sonnelfeld said.
“While the markets have certainly come a long way from the doldrums of the recession, members remain wary about whether we are in the clear or there will be more bad news.”
“Tiger 21 members have been registering levels of cash in the low teens for a few years and in the mid-teens for the last two years, indicating deep concerns about the recovery and not wanting to get caught with too little cash if there is another downturn.”
Among those high-net-wealth investors living solely on their accumulated wealth, they have reduced their annual spending from 3% of assets to 2% of assets, and increased their cash holdings from 12% to 14%, Tiger 21 found.
Members also have an average of 23% of their portfolios in real estate, 9% in private equity and 9% in hedge funds.
“Historically, [exposure to hedge funds] had been in the 10% to 12% range in the last half dozen years but fell dramatically in the 2008 downturn. This was amplified by liquidations as members were seeking to limit risk and build cash. Some members may now perceive additional opportunities for alternative investments to outperform the public markets.”
On a more positive note, Tiger 21 members do find time for philanthropy, and there is certainly a need for giving, especially to victims of the Great Recession.
Tiger 21 would be a great reality TV show don't you think? The chicks already had theirs, BRAVO TV's "The Real Housewives of New York City". However, to call those MILFS housewives would be an understatement. The correct title should be "How To Spend The Money of Your Rich Hubby Before He Dies". (9/11/11)
The New World Order, Ruling Class or Illuminati, as it is commonly referred IS real. They go back to the Middle Ages. They have been associated with the occult even belief in Lucifer or The Devil. They are at the top of the food chain and control EVERYTHING. Everybody thinks that the Big Corporations, Politicians and Military Industrial Complex are the rulers, but they are just merely the tools to concentrate power at the top.
The Politicians are controlled by the Illuminati through their financial support, favors and even bribery. Washington lobby groups dominate Washington, D.C. The Big Corporations, through their global business activities provide the capital to acquire and control the vast majority of global worth. The Top 137 corporations control 40% of the world's wealth.
The Politicians and The Big Corporations both report to the Military Industrial Complex which is where the "muscle" of the Illuminati resides. The Illuminati are the equivalent of the Boss of Bosses or top Don of a Sicilian family. The Military Industrial Complex are equivalent to the Bosses of La Familia or Mafia. The various branches of the military are the Under Bosses, and then there are the soldiers.
The Military Industrial Complex consists of the U.S. military and heads of the CIA, NSA and FBI and "The Greys." YES, extra-terrestrials are involved indirectly, and they take great pleasure in watching over everything. They are the ultimate beneficiaries. They have unlimited power, and their technology is millions of years ahead of us, and they could destroy the Earth if they wanted, but they need us, so they don't care if there is a power struggle for supremacy among us humans.
The Greys are a dying species of extra-terrestrials who travelled to Earth and colonized it thousands of years ago, and through genetic experimentations of human DNA developed Modern Man. Trust me, it was not Divine intervention like it says in the Holy Bible.
In the 1950's, The Greys entered into a secret pact with the Eisenhower administration. According to that Pact, the U.S. government would provide The Greys with access to a certain number of humans so they could conduct DNA experiments to replicate their species by combining both Grey and Human DNA. In exchange, The Greys were to provide us with certain advanced technologies.
A few unscrupulous Illuminati individuals within the U.S. government saw an opportunity to exploit the alien technology to consolidate power, wealth and control over the masses on Earth. The Greys really don't care. We are their form of entertainment. In fact, they love harvesting our souls. They get off in capturing the soul as it leaves the human body upon death, and use it like an aphrodisiac. In effect, they get off on US.
The Big Corporations controls the Corporate Media and Global Banking. It is the job of the Corporate Media to spread disinformation and propaganda that has divided the masses. I am sure that you will agree that this has worked perfectly.
Global Banking provides the financial resources so that the Big Corporations can successfully carry out their evil commercial activities throughout the world and create more wealth for the Illuminati.
The Politicans control the Government and Courts. The Government creates the laws and regulations to control the masses. The Courts are the enforcers for the politicians. They punish the masses if they don't stay in line.
Below is a simplified organizational chart showing the Ruling Class or Illuminati at the top with the other organizations and entities just described below them:
The Illuminati has the following pecking order or power rank which is illustrated in the graphic below:
The Illuminati or Ruling Class
I know some "British Subjects" are going to scream blasphemy for mentioning Queen Elizabeth at the head of the Illuminati, but the decision was an obvious one. The Illuminati needed natural succession at the top, and The Royals fit that description perfectly. They are of royal blood, respected worldwide and there is logical order of succession. Next in line in order of succession is Prince Charles. Even President Barack Obama and the First Lady bow to Queen Elizabeth.
Israel is next in line in the Illuminati pecking order. They are the business leaders, power brokers and bankers of the world. They also control the media (from newspapers to the Internet). Facebook is a front for the CIA, FBI and NSA. I warned you about this in a previous blog post. Do you notice that every American presidential candidate goes before the prominent Jewish Organizations like the National Jewish Democratic Council to make sure the next president will support Israel? That's not a coincidence.
Next is the Welf Relations which stems from the House of Welf. The House of Welf (historically rendered in English, Guelf or Guelph) is a European dynasty that has included many German and British monarchs from the 11th to 20th century. The original House of Welf Family Tree is below:
In its modern context, Welf Relations now includes the hundreds of descendants of the House of Welf who live today. They consider their membership in the Illuminati a blood right.
The Freemasonry are next in the pecking order. Freemasonry is a fraternal organization that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. You can recognize a Freemason by the symbol of a square and compass and letter "G" in the middle. Some say the "G" stands for God or Guild. Some say its the symbol for the human penis.
Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million. Very few Freemasons are in the Illuminati, but the top guys probably are. The fraternity is administratively organized into independent Grand Lodges, each of which governs its own jurisdiction. There are over a quarter of a million under the jurisdiction of the United Grand Lodge of England and just under two million in the United States.
The heads of the Roman Catholic Church is the last in the pecking order of the Illuminati. This includes Pope Benedict XVI and the College of Cardinals. The Cardinals are princes of the Church appointed by the Pope, who are ordained senior bishops. As a whole, the College of Cardinals advises the Pope, and those cardinals under the age of 80 at the death of a Pope elect his successor. There are now a total of 193 Cardinals, of whom 112 are aged under 80. Of the voting-age cardinals, 64 were appointed by Pope John Paul II, and 28 by Pope Benedict XVI.
BTW, the Roman Catholic Church, was duped by The Greys. Jesus was never born of a Virgin Mary and he never rose from the dead. He was "invented" by those evil Greys, and the rest is history. The Roman Catholic Church provides the people something the Illuminati cannot or won't: HOPE. It's perfect, the Greys get a great kick out of it. But, the Church is now worried that they maybe exposed and be out of the religion business. I mentioned this to you in a previous blog post when The scientists from Vatican met with the scientists from NASA and 20 or so top-level scientists because they want to know if ET is for real. Ha, ha, ha. I got a kick out of that one. Naturally, they've been given assurances that ET does not exist.
The Royals and The Committee of 300 make the important decisions for the Illuminati. They represent the wealthiest, most powerful and influential individuals in the World, not necessarily the most well known or even wealthy. None of them would ever admit they are a member of The Committee of 300 or Illuminati. The Committe of 300 include a Who's Who of Americans, British and Europeans. Famous Americans who are members of The Comittee of 300 include Senator John Kerry, Senator Joe Lieberman, former Senator and Democratic Presidential Candidate Al Gore (consolation prize for losing the Presidency to that idiot son George W Bush), investor Warren Buffet, former President Bill Clinton, Former President George H.W. Bush, Microsoft executives Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, The Rockefeller's, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geitner and others. Political affiliations do not matter within the Illuminati. Everybody is pals, some of them even swop their wives to seal a deal, then they laugh and do high-fives afterwards.
The ultimate goal of the Illuminati is to own everything, and judging from the concentration of wealth among developed nations throughout the world, it's working. Eventually they will have total control of the working class. Their ultimate plan is to keep the poor as poor as possible, eliminate the middle class, and increase their numbers at the top so they own quite literally everything.
I know what you are thinking: The Illuminati does not exist and this is all bullshit. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. I may even be a member of the Illuminati, and you would never know it, because I would never admit it.
Courtesy of @turk5555