Monday, April 10, 2006

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (0)


The market for matchmakers

Craig Wilson has a story in USA Today about how high-end personal shoppers have added new functions -- such as trying to marry their clients off:

[Claire] Wexler's concierge service helps the wife-seeking man deal with, well, just about everything he needs in his search, from what flowers to send ("Not roses, they're trite") to what shoes to wear ("Brown goes with almost everything"). And if he has less romantic desires like finding a good doctor or choosing new appliances, she can handle that, too.

"Our concept is to build a one-stop shop of resources," says Barbie Adler, founder of 6-year-old Selective Search, where 100 well-heeled men CEOs, professional athletes and the like pay an annual fee of $10,000 for 15 "introductions" to some of the 30,000 "bright and talented" women she has in her database.

"They're not just arm candy, although we have that, too," she says. The women, called "affiliates," pay nothing to get in the game. Over the years, Wexler has found them mostly through word of mouth.

"We're the surrogate females in (clients' lives) until we can get them a female of their own," Adler says. "Our client is busy. They believe in outsourcing."

"We're the wing women," Wexler adds.

Three thoughts (beyond the obvious reference to Tyler Cowen's "markets in everything" meme):
1) You have to think that some Hollywood executive read this article today and immediately conceived of a romantic-comedy-starring-Rachel-McAdams-kind-of-like-The-Wedding-Planner-but-funnier-and-with-more-heart.

Some free advice for Ms. McAdams: "Run!! Run like it's a nekkid Vanity Fair cover shoot!! Run!!"

2) There's a Laura McKenna-type comment on the social significance of such services... but I'll just task this to Laura and any commenters willing to venture forth.

3) One of the suggestions that Alan Blinder makes in the current issue of Foreign Affairs about how to deall with the long-term impact of offshoring is to gear education towards jobs that require face-to-face interactions. This seems like the ne plus ultra of Blinder-style jobs. [That's all you're going to say about the Blinder article?--ed. I'll have more later in the week.]


posted by Dan on 04.10.06 at 09:55 PM




Comments:

"We're the surrogate females in (clients' lives) until we can get them a female of their own," Adler says. "Our client is busy. They believe in outsourcing."

So this isn't exactly like jdate ...seems to me this is a pretty old sort of business.

posted by: Mitchell Young on 04.10.06 at 09:55 PM [permalink]



Any thoughts on the latest Simpson's episode, featuring outsourcing? Homer goes to India where he teaches the workers about unions, sick pay, etc. while pretending to be a God (you have to see it, long story). After successfully turning them into "lazy, entitled American workers" (Lisa's words), Mr. Burns closes the factory and moves it back to Springfield, where he can find workers willing to work for nothing.
Anyway, another data point to add to the study of outsourcing in the public eye...

posted by: bc on 04.10.06 at 09:55 PM [permalink]



One of the suggestions that Alan Blinder makes in the current issue of Foreign Affairs about how to deall with the long-term impact of offshoring is to gear education towards jobs that require face-to-face interactions

Great idea. Forget about training for jobs in biomedical research, financial derivatives structuring, aerospace engineering, political science or economics. Re-tool our top grads to become:

-- courtesans
-- residential real estate brokers
-- upscale carpark jockeys
-- Hollywood casting experts
-- shoe salesmen
-- aromatherapy consultants
-- maitre d's at Michelin starred restaurants
-- lifelong politicians

A 21c nation of salesmen: Willy Loman has the last laugh.

posted by: thibaud on 04.10.06 at 09:55 PM [permalink]



Love that surrogate female and getting their own female line. It's so Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.

I would love to see how they are organizing their database: "arm candy," "the future presidents of the junior league," "complete doormats."

Thanks, Dan, for the morning ha-ha.

posted by: Laura on 04.10.06 at 09:55 PM [permalink]



I'm either incredibly obtuse, sheltered or both. Exactly what is it these people do? Is it a dating service? an escort service? personal managers? Someone help me out here.

posted by: Dustin on 04.10.06 at 09:55 PM [permalink]



This is actually the greatest story I've seen in a while--right now I'm calculating the monetary value of the many individual services I perform for my husband, then I'll send him a bill at the end of the month. The danger, of course, is that he'll "fire" the pieces of me that are underperforming--toilet cleaning etc.--and may eventually get rid of me for "not meeting expectations."

My other observation would be that most of the services these entrepreneurs perform (at least the ones they talk about in public) are the "discredited" aspects of women's work in the home--shopping, organizing, socializing--that don't even look like work (let alone skilled labor) and tend not to be taught at fancy-pants schools. They are, however, as I noted in my comments on Laura's blog, the markers of social distinction that make all the difference in the long run. Think of them as Eliza Doolittle's accent, with these outsourcing mavens as reverse sex professional Pygmalians.

posted by: kelli on 04.10.06 at 09:55 PM [permalink]



I must say, the "Selective Search" website reminds me of the old "Coincidence Design" hoax, written up here: http://alternet.org/story/12236

posted by: bruce on 04.10.06 at 09:55 PM [permalink]



Maybe I can get a gig as "arm candy" if I'm unable to snag a tenure-track position....

posted by: Macaroni on 04.10.06 at 09:55 PM [permalink]






Post a Comment:

Name:


Email Address:


URL:




Comments:


Remember your info?