Virtual Events Provider Raises $10 Million, Misses the Point of Events

Posted on January 19, 2008
Filed Under VC Insanity |

Unisfair, a Menlo Park-based startup that hosts events such as conferences, trade shows and job fairs in virtual worlds, has raised $10 million in funding from Norwest and Sequoia. Unisfair hosted more than 400 virtual events for companies like Cisco, Cognos and Nielsen over the past year and a half and appears to have a real business model.

Because the company generates revenue, you’d expect that Drama 2.0 would be a fan. Wrong. I agree with Paul Glazowski that this is a ridiculous business, but for a much different reason: Unisfair misses the entire point of corporate events. The companies that host virtual events in Unisfair’s corporate Second Life are doing a major disservice to “attendees.”

So what is the point of corporate events? To bring people together physically! For what?

For obvious reasons, the above are not going to happen at a virtual event and therefore I do not support faux events. Apparently the founders of Unisfair have never truly taken advantage of all that real events offer. They seem to believe that companies actually hold conferences to produce something tangible, that salespeople actually go to trade shows to sell things and that job-seekers actually go to job fairs to find jobs.

I would suggest that the next time Guy Piekarz, Unisfair’s CEO, attends a real event, he goes up to that hot marketing chick at the cocktail party and sparks up a conversation. After a night of passionate lovemaking I suspect he’d resign from Unisfair immediately. Until such time, VCs like Sequoia should be funding companies that throw said cocktail parties, not ones that are looking to eliminate them. That is all.

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One Response to “Virtual Events Provider Raises $10 Million, Misses the Point of Events”

  1. Ram Narayan on January 19th, 2008 7:56 pm

    Your assessment is hilarious. I do agree with you that conventions and annual fairs serve a different purpose than what Unisfair intends to facilitate.

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