Google's Marissa Mayer on Woome

Bambi Francisco Roizen · December 8, 2008 · Short URL:

Search expert joins Vator Box team to evaluate the online dating/introductory site

Google's Marissa Mayer, VP of search experience and products, was on hand to be our guest host for four Vator Box segments. In this one, we look a Woome, a speed-dating, online introductory platform.

Here are some points, Mayer and Ezra Roizen (Vator Box regular and digital media investment banker) made:

- Stephen Stokols is a smart guy, and someone with a lot of credibility and ability to make this a win

- The company has raised $17.4 million, making the volume and activity needed a significant challenge to provide a return to investors. While the audience trajectory is going up nicely, the curve needs to go up in a steeper angle

- Dating is another search problem because a lot of the same principles, such as comprehensiveness, applies. What that means is the site needs a lot more users

- Authenticity is key to making the site trustworthy, and to provide good matches. That said, the video element adds a lot to the authenticity

- Going beyond a dating site to an introductory site to find people to travel or snowboard with may be tricky. People tend to meet people first, then get together to have a shared experience. It's probably a much smaller number of people who identify an experience they want to have and search for someone to have that experience. Ultimately, you want to meet people for the primary purpose of dating (making Woome no more than a dating site - which, of course, is not a bad thing). Additionally, other venues, like Facebook or MySpace, may be better places to find people in your social circles to have a shared experience

- The potential to create a reality TV genre based on watching people dating isn't very appealing. As Roizen put it: "I think it’s slightly creepy, me watching other people hitting on other people in micro-slices... [and as a show] there's no character development."

- Suggestion: Maybe Woome can find other social platforms where they can insert itself. For instance, if people are playing poker on Zynga, besides having the option to send a drink to a person at the table, they can have the option to video chat with someone in another room.


And, now a word from our sponsor, Liquid Scenarios

The Liquid Scenarios Minute is the time we look at valuations and exit strategies, and, most importantly, when founders do or don't make money.

Woome raised a total of $17.4 million. The company's last round of financing was a $12.5 million Series B round, with a post-money valuation of $41 million. This suggests that Woome's pre-money valuation was around $28.5 million, and that Series B invesors got just over 30.5% of the company for their investment.

If Woome were to exit at the same price sold to Ticketmaster for, Series B investors would only realize a 1.5x return on their investment if the company was sold a year from now. If the company were to sell at eHarmony's Series B pre-money valuation of $350 million, Series B investors would get nearly a 10x on cash return.

An exit somewhere in between is entirely possible because of Woome's unique use of VoIP and the way it's converting user content into entertainment, something would find difficult to do and something that would be contrary to eHarmony's business model.

The combination of video content, which is growing faster than online dating is a key differentiator. Since online video consumption is highest in the demographics first to adopt social media,Woome could likely carve out a sizable and profitable niche very quickly.

That's the Liquid Scenarios Minute.

(Note: Marissa was our guest for four Vator Box segments. The following companies we evaluated include Appssavvy, Searchme, and Viewdle.)

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Bambi Francisco Roizen

Founder and CEO of Vator, a media and research firm for entrepreneurs and investors; Managing Director of Vator Health Fund; Co-Founder of Invent Health; Author and award-winning journalist.

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Viewdle is about capture in the moment.  We’re focused on enabling consumers to manage, tag, and share their media as they create it, anywhere.  

Viewdle was founded in 2007, with the vision of helping people share and tag all of their photos and videos on any media creation device - from servers to laptops to mobile phones - through visual analysis and facial recognition technology. 

Initially developed in The Cybernetics Institute in Kiev, Ukraine., more than 10 years of research and development has gone into Viewdle’s technology.  Viewdle runs the world’s largest independent visual analysis research team with 8 PhDs and 30 other visual analysis specialists.  Its core technology has been independently benchmarked as the fastest and most efficient available.
Viewdle’s first consumer product, is focused on harnessing the power of people’s social family and friend network, so users can automatically tag people in their photos and easily manage albums from their desktop to Facebook.  Viewdle on the desktop makes it so that you'll never have to tag photos again.




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appssavvy is a mobile advertising technology company with the mission of rethinking the delivery and reception of advertising. Focused on activity, appssavvy redefines how brands reach consumers, creates native ad experiences for publishers, and most importantly, improves advertising through data and insights about real-time behavior.




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WooMe is an online speed dating platorm that leverages cutting edge in-browser voip and video technology to enable users to meet new people in a fast, fun and free fashion. Meet five people in five minutes in live topical speed sessions such as " lovers in Los Angeles."

WooMe brings the speed dating craze online and extends it to let users meet new people live in fast, fun and free speed sessions. There are no long forms or lengthy profile descriptions, simply find a session that interests you and meet 5 people in 5 minutes. Or, create your own sessions based on your interests, such as "TechCrunch Readers in San Fran". Invite friends or strangers to play with you and immediately decide if you are woo'd by someone. WooMe's in-browser video and voice capability delivers a live interactive experience where users play for fun, to hook up, or just meet new people around shared interests. There are no tedious profiles, no software to download, and best of all it's free.

Backed by Niklas Zennström's (Skype Founder) Atomico Investments, the original investors in Skype (Mangrove Capital), and Klaus Hommels (Europe's Investor of the Year, 2006), WooMe is catapulting the $1 billion+ speed dating market into the online world. With WooMe, meeting people online is transformed into a live interactive experience that makes sifting through contrived profiles a thing of the past.

Founded in 2006, WooMe's management team has experience in bringing innovative web applications to market for companies including: AltaVista, CMGI, BT, Accenture, Qwest, Shopzilla, Trilogy. Stephen Stokols, Co-Founder/CEO, successfully sold an internet start-up and went on to become BT's youngest VP, growing their eCommerce revenues over 300% to over $1bn in his first 12 months. George Berkowski, Co-Founder/Product Director, brings extensive technical and marketing experience in the online space and in outer space (he played a role in sending the first tourist to the Space Station).





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Searchme lets you see what you’re searching for. As you start typing, categories appear that relate to your query. Choose a category, and you’ll see pictures of web pages that answer your search. You can review these pages quickly to find just the information you’re looking for, before you click through.

We’re just getting started on our first step towards creating an entirely new way to search the Web. The quality of our results will vary as we make Searchme better and better. If you have comments or suggestions we’d love to hear from you. We love feedback.

We’re also looking for more great people to join our team, as well as ways to partner with companies to deliver more value to our users. And, of course, we’re always happy to chat with the press.

Thanks for using Searchme!


Ezra Roizen

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Advisor-to and commenter-on emerging ventures

Marissa Mayer

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Stephen Stokols

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