Vir2o wants to be the “local pub and community center” of the Internet. The startup launched a new social media platform today and revealed that is is backed by $1 million in seed financing.
The site pulls together various components from other social media networks to create a broader platform with more capabilities. Users can share pictures, listen to music, play games, post and watch videos, and shop in private “rooms.” Using the “nVite” feature, people can invite groups of friends to join them in these rooms and all their voice, audio, and screen views are synchronized. Vir2o seeks to take the offline experience of hanging out and put it online. Founder Kayode Aladesuyi said its like a more advanced version of Google +.
“Vir2o is disruptive to the current state of social media, taking the concept of socialization beyond the community poster board to enhancing relationships on the Web,” said Aladesuyi to VentureBeat. “Interactive user engagement is what’s new, different and innovative. It is not screen-sharing, it is session-sharing. Social media in its current state, while it serves desired business purposes, may in the long run become a platform where people are further separated and alienated rather than harmonizing relationships regardless of place or distance.”
Social media has ingrained itself deeply into every aspect of our lives. Yet despite the proliferation of communication methods, people still question whether this technology actually strengthens relationships, or whether it supports quantity over quality of social interactions. This is a hot button issue and a significant amount has been published over the past few years on the topics of loneliness, American alienation, and the dissolution of the American community, such as Loneliness, Bowling Alone, Alone Together, and The Pursuit of Loneliness.
For many users, Facebook is no longer about your close circle of friends. Its where you reconnect with a classmate from high school or share pictures of your weekend with the world. Alternative social networks like Path try to create a more intimate experience, but Path has struggled to find a viable monetization scheme and also with user fatigue — many people are already overwhelmed with social media and don’t want to add more networks into the equation. Vir2o will face these issues as well.
Vir2o has adopted a mixed revenue business model based on advertising and revenue share with content providers and retailers. There are campaigns and sponsored and banner ads in all the “rooms.” In the “music room”, Vir2o also makes money by taking a commission on any albums or songs that are purchased through its VMaestro service. In the “movie room,” it earns revenue on a pay per view basis for broadcasted content like live concerts and sporting matches, as well as fees from movie subscriptions and rentals. Vir2o also has a marketplace where it makes a commission on all products sold on the site by third party retailers.
Vir2o attracted approximately 20,000 beta users and is targeted people in emerging markets with a focus on BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China). The company was founded in 2012 and operates under parent company East Coast Diversified Corp. It has 17 employees and is based in Atlanta, Georgia.