Forget crowdsourcing. It seems the social networking marketplace itself is becoming crowded, causing competitors to amp up their efforts to get noticed. Look at the way LivingSocial opened its new event space by offering a sampling of Top Chef contestant Mike Isabella’s soon-to-open Georgetown restaurant, Bandolero. Michael Saylor and his company, the Tysons Corner–based MicroStrategy, are trying to be equally inventive with the launch of their new social marketplace site, EMMA, by offering a chance to party with Elton John on Oscar night this Sunday, airfare and hotel included.
EMMA stands for electronic marketplace for merchandise and activities—but, unsurprisingly, “We liked EMMA better,” says Glen Goldstein, the company’s vice president for social media.
So what exactly is EMMA? Goldstein says, “We’ve mashed together Facebook and Craigslist. It creates a whole social marketplace of friends and others, and you can open it up and see their profiles. You have the choice of keeping a [posting] closed to only friends or open to everyone.” The network just launched and so far has 10,000 subscribers.
That’s where Elton John enters the picture. The company is offering new subscribers what it calls “experiences of a lifetime.” Goldstein says there are three contests. The first is two tickets to the Elton John Oscar viewing party, where the winners will sit at Saylor’s table. The second “experience” is access to what Goldstein calls the “after-after party at a super-secret location with a thousand Hollywood A-listers.” The third contest is aimed at aspiring actors and actresses. “We’re going to pick six actors and six actresses and send them to the after-after party,” says Goldstein. As with the Elton John tickets, all the contests include airfare and hotel, and all the winners will be in the company of Saylor at the event.
Anybody who joins EMMA can compete, but each contestant will have to share his or her social profile. The winners will be decided by a committee of four at MicroStrategy. For example, the Elton John party tickets ideally will go to “someone who is a big Elton John fan, a supporter of the HIV cause, a big fan of the Oscars, or all three,” says Goldstein. The winners will be chosen and announced this Friday, and will be on a plane on Saturday.
These could be just the tickets for anybody looking for a good time this weekend. Saylor is decidedly a good time. The billionaire business mogul is also a notorious party boy; he made news earlier this month because of his 47th birthday party in New York City, where Courtney Love was the entertainment. Only Love may not have given him the birthday wishes he expected. From the stage, she blurted: “I don’t know who the [expletive] Michael Saylor is, but happy birthday and thanks for the free drinks.”
Future “experiences of a lifetime” to be offered by EMMA include a trip to the Monaco Grand Prix and the Cannes Film Festival . . . presumably also with Saylor.