Perks "R" Us
By Karen Solomon
Is there anything money can't buy? The constant one-upmanship that spurs the super-rich to pursue their fickle passions now extends to buying your way into sports teams. The Giants' "Principal Partners"–around 20 of them so far–can buy micropercentages of ownership for a few mil and get perks like the chance to schmooze with players during spring training, transport in the Giants' private plane, great seats at the World Series and all team games, and, of course, bragging rights. So what's around the corner? In an attempt to predict the next frontier, we propose three local institutions with cachet and potential perks galore:
The French Laundry
Anyone can feel wealthy and pampered with the top-tier fine dining and meticulous service, but shareholders can skip the two-month wait for reservations and have a private table reserved for them and their friends any night. Other benefits include kitchen tours where part owners stick their pinkie in the pot-au-feu and Thomas Keller lets them lick the bowl.
Industrial Light & Magic
Imagine the cocktail chatter you'd have at your disposal if an upcoming high-tech George Lucas production gave you a cameo–say, one of the enemies in the next Star Wars or Harry Potter extravaganza, or perhaps your very own anime character? Private screenings, opening night galas, and cocktails with George every quarter are also included.
The Bay Bridge
Who has time for traffic these days? With no helipads within San Francisco's city limits, being stuck on the Bay Bridge is the most democratic experience around. Invest millions in Caltrans, the authority that oversees the bridge, and get a special UltraFast Pass that will have you speeding through a very private lane.