Magazine article Success

What Price Access? for Face Time with an Innovator, the Sky's the Limit

Magazine article Success

What Price Access? for Face Time with an Innovator, the Sky's the Limit

Article excerpt

Last year online auction website Charitybuzz offered its philanthropic-minded members the chance to bid on a lunch date with George Clooney. The unnamed winning bidder paid $58,000 to nosh with the superstar. Later, another anonymous bidder forked over $185,000 for lunch with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But neither of them came close to the $610,000 an undisclosed bidder paid in May for coffee with Apple CEO Tim Cook at the company's headquarters. The auction benefited the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights.

Net proceeds from all auctions go to nonprofits, with $80 million raised since the for-profit Charitybuzz was established in 2005. Musicians such as Bono ($211,000), Paul McCartney ($130,000) and Bruce Springsteen ($100,000) were, well, once the auction rock stars. That's changed, says founder Coppy Holzman. "Over the past 18 months, the biggest superstars, the ones commanding top dollar, are entrepreneurs, tech icons and titans of industry. We have 100,000 bidders in 10 countries who want access," Holzman says.

In June, Ralph C. Martin, CEO of Munich-based risk management agency Emirat AG, spent $91,000 to lunch with Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, raising money for a charter school in East Palo Alto, Calif., that Mayer has long supported. A Belgium-based venture capitalist tendered $31,600 and traveled to San Francisco with lucky friends to lunch with Jack Dorsey, Twitter co-founder and Square CEO.

For Newport Beach, Calif., business owner Jack Staub, the opportunity to meet Warren Buffett was well worth his $156,000 winning bid in August, with net proceeds going to Communities in Schools of Los Angeles, a dropout-prevention program connecting students with resources ranging from health services to food banks and job-shadowing opportunities. …

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