Empire Avenue out of Edmonton is interesting. Using the stock market as a metaphor, members of the community can buy shares in you using a virtual currency at your going stock price. Using a social aggregator algorithm, Empire Avenue evaluates and quantifies what is now commonly referred to as "social leverage"; counting and evaluating your tweets, re-tweest, Facebook and LinkedIn status updates, Youtube activity, Blogs, Flickr, ... you get the idea. Combine that with your engagement and performance in the Empire Avenue "stock market" platform itself; how often and how much do you invest, etc..., and you get a single score. That's your stock price.
I met Dups, CEO of Empire Avenue a year ago at the Grow Conference in Vancouver, I heard his pitch, and I registered at their website. Didn't think much of it first time around. Met him again a second time when I sat at his table in the morning of last summer's AccelerateAB.
I said to him "I Don't Get It." Originally, I logged on twice and stopped. There is no way to make real money. It is a waste of time. I don't get it? At the table, Trevor Doerkson (CEO of the Mighty Mobovio) thought the same thing. Most people I introduce it to say the same thing. Empire Avenue even has a menu item "What's the point, anyway !?"
Dups simplified it "Empire Avenue is a social GAME." With that in mind, Trevor and I logged on. As it turns out, my stock price (ticker: SKING) was $23 Eaves ("Eaves" are the virtual currency used in the stock market). Trevor's was $19 (he's gonna love this story :), and he was all, like, "wha ... ? Why the HECK is yours better?" He's a good social connector, so I thought I'd investigate.
I finished connecting my other social networks and feeds and such to Empire Avenue; LinkedIn, Twitter (@stephdokin), Facebook, and Youtube. That provided my activity level to Empire Avenue. Then I went shopping with the 10,000 eaves that Empire Avenue gives you when you sign up. I bought shares in some other people. And, I found it made me pause to see how active each of them were, as well, trying to see if they were both a good investment, and comparing them to my own online social activity. I ended up getting the attention of some pretty connected individuals. And therein lies both the fun and the ROI.
Like the real stock market, it's compelling. It's a fun social game that also connects you to others who aspire to have higher social leverage. It's a game, yes, but, it can also give you a competitive edge in your professional networking. It serves as a social aggregator, giving me feeds from all my EAV friends from their social networks. And, understanding what makes my price go up and down also helps me understand what's important in my social leverage
Since the summer (and I suspect, like many others on EAV) I've added a quick look at my stock price to my morning routine and play on it once or twice a week (and especially as I sit around on a snowy Saturday afternoon). So, it's certainly got my attention.
Many others agree. It's gone global; Dups says they have people from 56 different countries registered on the site. I've noticed at times they're hitting 1,000 people on the site at a single time.
How do they make money? This is what I like about EAV ... they've thought through how they can monetize and aren't afraid to try things. One way is to let you buy more Eaves with real cash. The 10,000 eaves goes pretty quickly when investing. So, Dups and his team are having no problems convincing people to use real cash to buy virtual currency, to buy more shares in people and, in the same way Zynga lets people use real cash to buy virtual seeds, you can buy virtual "luxury items". I just bought a kayak. The team is cranking out features, seeing what sticks and resonates, and iterating … important to ALL software businesses, of course, and kudos to this team for kickin' it up a notch.
These guys made the news last summer when they announced a $1.2M raise led by Crosslink Capital and also included iNovia Capital; BioWare co-founders Ray Muzyka and Greg Zeschuk; Ben Narasin; TriplePoint Capital; Jeff Lapin; Kevin Swan; and Boris Wertz.
As they continue to sort out how to make real money from this game, they are a company to watch.
I almost broke 30 Eaves as my stock price a couple months back. Sitting at around 25 right now. DID I MENTION my EAV stock ticker is SKING? Need to stay ahead of Trevor.