After the U.S. market closed on Tuesday, the value of Apple topped $500 billion amid reports the iPad 3 launch is imminent. The company is now worth more in dollar terms than most countries’ gross domestic product and joins a very exclusive club of companies that have been valued, at some point, at more than half a trillion dollars.
As traders from Shanghai to New York debate whether the Apple rally has legs 2,000 members of another exclusive club are meeting in Singapore and could find themselves talking to the next Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg.
The Young Presidents Organization (YPO) is an alliance of 19,000 entrepreneurs, business leaders and CEOs whose companies’ combined annual revenue of $6 trillion far outweighs Apple’s $108 billion last year. Together these 19,000 entrepreneurs employ 16 million people in 110 countries across the world.
At the YPO's annual meeting at Singapore's Marina Bay Sands Hotel you can look out of the window and see thousands of ships entering the City State’s world famous port but inside the meeting the wheels of global trade are being oiled by people who could very well be the next big thing.
To qualify as a member of the YPO you need to run a company that makes more than $8 million a year and employs 50 people who are collectively paid more than a million dollars a year. Once in, its members believe you get access to a trusted network across the world, who will help you drive your business and investments.
Michele Raucci, is the chairman of a private equity group Sixiang Holdings which invests in assets across Europe and says the YPO gives him “a touch of reality" from the real economy. Raucci said the network allows him to meet other entrepreneurs and discuss issues and ideas that often directly influence his investment decisions.
"Everyone I meet in Asia is very negative on Europe at the moment but I am seeing value in countries like Germany, Italy and the U.K.," Raucci said in an interview with CNBC.com on Wednesday.
He added that he was on the lookout for small and medium sized firms where the current management have lost the confidence needed to take the business forward. By discussing how those on the front line of the global economy view the world Raucci believes he can find value.
Pascal Gerken, the CEO of investment group Gerken, which has interests in building materials in South East Asia, is looking to invest in hospitality and travel related assets. Having played a role in creating a new YPO chapter in Myanmar, Gerken says he knows the value of being able to find people you can trust.
"The trust in other YPO members is unique, it allows me to increase my comfort when making investments" said Gerken in an interview with CNBC.com.
YPO's code of conduct is very important to Gerken. Relationships that could take 6 or 7 years to build normally can be built in 15 to 20 minutes, according to him. Gerken says he also finds new partners and investments through his YPO membership.
Richard G Philips used to be a lawyer working in Washington and now runs his family business, Pilot Freight Services, a global logistics firm with operations in North America and Western Europe.
The firm ships everything from TVs to high-end healthcare machines for the likes of GE, says Philips. According to him, he rarely uses the YPO to generate leads or find customers, instead he says it’s more about learning from other business leaders.
"The YPO offers me access to business leaders who I can share ideas with. In front of my staff I need to be confident, not show I am uncertain. But with other YPO members, with (whom) I can talk in absolute confidentiality and get advice, which is both thoughtful and helpful."
Having just set up operations in Toronto, Mexico City and Mumbai, Phillips said other YPO members in these cities offered him advice, which he could use. "They know the market and the problems you will face in places that you have no experience of dealing with."
"There is a rule that if any member emails or calls you, you have to get back to them in 24 hours" said Phillips who also highlighted another fringe benefit. "You never pay for a drink when visiting a member."