Build It and They Will Come. Or Won’t They?

Technology News
Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel, courtesy of Ken Yeung/Flickr Commons

It’s another sign, perhaps, that event apps have matured and are poised to make a big impact—in the business world, at least. Three-year-old Double Dutch, the San Francisco-based maker of mobile, social event apps, raised $19 million in series D venture funding last week. Famed VC Peter Thiel was involved, through investment by his Mithril Capital Management. The round also included participation by Bessemer Venture PartnersIndex Ventures and Bullpen Capital.

The DoubleDutch apps let event attendees find and connect with businesses and people who share their interests before and during the event, and then remain connected after they leave. The apps help meeting planners capture and surface data from their events, from surveys and polling, attendee networking etc.

Mithril co-founder Ajay Royan, who has now joined the DoubleDutch board, noted in the Wall Street Journal that research shows about 20 percent of a typical marketing officer’s budget goes toward trade shows, and that worldwide spending on events and conferences have surpassed $500 billion. In other words, meetings have become a big, lucrative market.

But Forbes columnist Ben Kepes is skeptical about whether Double Dutch’s event apps can be incorporated into people’s daily lives—as Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn are now. “NO ONE USES CONFERENCE APPS,” Kepes writes (capital letters are his), and “trying to subvert [the platforms they use on a daily basis] onto a platform that, at best, will be adopted for the couple of days [that] an event exists seems backwards.”

Who’s right? Only time will tell.