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?
- Business is more likely to get done when people interact in real life. Just as a lot of deals get done on the 19th hole of the golf course, a lot of deals get done when sleazy businessmen attending a conference sit around at a swanky restaurant getting drunk and telling dirty secretary stories.
- Corporate events like trade shows are some of the best places to find one-night stands. It usually goes like this: Big Company throws cocktail party at hotel. Drama 2.0 sees cute marketing chick. Drama 2.0 introduces himself to cute marketing chick and begins flirting. Within 5 minutes, cute marketing chick is hypnotized by Drama 2.0’s wit and charm. Within 15 minutes, cute marketing chick is touching and kissing Drama 2.0. Within 25 minutes, Drama 2.0 and cute marketing chick are in the elevator heading to Drama 2.0’s suite.
- For workaholic married folks, corporate events provide the perfect cover for an affair and provide the perfect break from married life (i.e. a sexy 30-something from the finance department whose husband doesn’t fulfill her fantasies anymore can have a one-night tryst with Drama 2.0 that restores her faith in men).
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.Print This Post