At one end of the Congress Center is the main meeting hall. At another, private meeting rooms for the super-VIPs. And nestled right in the middle is the YouTube room.
Actually it isn’t called the YouTube room because there is no branding at Davos except for the WEF. But Google is a major partner to the conference, and this year the WEF added a new feature to reach out to attendees as well as non-attendees – the Davos Question. An entire room has been dedicated to this – five computers line the wall, all pointing to YouTube, where attendees can answer the question.
Between sessions this is clearly the place to be. Every few minutes another celebrity or leader walks through to leave a Davos Question response or go to a private meeting in the rooms beyond. The security detail comes first, giving everyone notice that someone interesting is coming. Then the person him/herself and their entourage.
Bono has been by twice. Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf came by so many times that people stopped noticing (he was in the background of this CNN report, I had to point him out to get the cameras to pan over). Rupert Murdoch strolled in, as did Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai (recording his YouTube video), UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former PM Tony Blair, Howard Dean, Michael Dell, Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin, Chad Hurley, Henry Kissinger and Shimon Peres (the winner of the most intimidating-looking security detail at Davos). All stopped politely for interviews and photos with Forbes, CNN and others (here I am with Peres and Brin, here’s Robert Scoble interviewing Michael Dell).
The entire Forbes team has camped out here for the duration of the event, and editor Carl Lavin wrote his own thoughts about this being the power center of the event. As I sit here now there are no less than four camera crews and a score of journalists milling around.
It didn’t take me long to find the YouTube room, and I’ve spent more time here than anywhere else. This conference is exceptional, and this room is the center of it all. Brilliant move, Google.