Face-the-book on the Strip


The Cosmopolitan


Time Magazine announced its man of the year today, December 15, 2010, with the cover picturing Mark Zuckerberg the founder of Facebook, or at least one of the people who claim or are credited with contributing the starting the phenomenon that now links some 550 million people world-wide, one out of every 12 people on earth are on Facebook and collectively spent nearly a trillion minutes a month networking.

A movie loosely based on the founding and Zuckerberg’s role, The Social Network, was nominated for 6 Golden Globe awards; it was released in October. The company and Zuckerberg are estimated to worth $15 billion, a nice round number for a young man born in 1984 – won’t George Orwell have loved the irony?

Also today in a seemingly unrelated story, a new casino is opening in Las Vegas.  The $3.9 billion Cosmopolitan is the 34th resort on the famous Strip.  It is the latest in a line of multi-billion dollar casino-resorts and in the mind of most analysts the last one for a long time.  The Las Vegas Strip at the end of 2010 is not the Strip of 2005, when it appeared that Las Vegas would continue to grow and expand faster than any other place on earth, except possibly Dubai, forever or at least as far as the eye can see.  The Great Recession has changed that perception and drastically altered the growth and development pattern that has characterized the city for the last 50 years.  Instead of leading the country in growth, today Las Vegas leads the country in unemployment, housing foreclosures and deaths among the homeless.

Most commentators have characterized the Cosmopolitan as representing the end of an era; the last of mega-resorts, many of which are now struggling just to survive, that will be build on the Strip or anywhere else in Las Vegas for years.  Those commentators don’t give the new kid much chance to be able to attract enough business to pay its debt, much less make a profit and they don’t think it will inspire anyone else to try their hand at the game either.  The management of the Cosmopolitan is much more optimistic, they think the property is bringing something new to the block and that newness will attract more than enough business to make the property a success.  One observer, David Schwartz, writing in the Las Vegas Business, thinks the management team might be right.  Schwartz thinks the Cosmopolitan may mark the beginning of an era, not the end.

Both the management of Cosmopolitan and Schwartz are focusing on the same thing – social networking, new technologies  and Zuckerberg’s product, his friends and his generation.  Schwartz says it will be the first  casino built from the ground up thinking about the internet, social networking and the constantly-in-touch technology that pervades our daily lives going into the second decade of the twenty-first century.  In this view, everything in the environment and everything a customer will experience is constantly changing, digitally enhanced and very edgy – the perfect setting for your i phone photos that you will upload to Facebook and share with your little corner of the 550 million citizens of Face-World.


Leila Navidi

The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Monday, December 13, 2010.

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