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Virtual environments mean big business for Conshohocken's VCopious

"Events come and go, but persistent worlds live on," says Ken Hayward, CEO of VCopious, a virtual meeting platform that allows users worldwide to meet in cyberspace. It's an amalgamation of virtual environments like Second Life with social networking, and VCopious is gaining momentum. With VCopious, physical location is no longer a barrier to gathering. It doesn't matter if you are in Athens, Georgia or Athens, Greece.

After downloading the VCopious application, participants create avatars able to meet, talk and shop in-world. VCopious predecessor Second Life peaked back in 2007, and now that the dust has settled and the thrill of cybersex has worn off, corporate and academic entities are now seeing the greatest benefit from virtual engagement.

Based in Conshohocken, VCopious counts as its biggest customer software giant SAP, which is hosting between 30 and 50 virtual meeting instances on any given day, according to Hayward. This week, the Greater Philadelphia Alliance for Technology and Capital (PACT) announced that VCopious has been selected as a finalist for the 2011 Technology Start Up of the Year.

"We believe that persistent virtual worlds are an important branding mechanism," adds Hayward, who touts his software's scalability. The recent SAP Sapphire event hosted a total of 51,000 participants, with 17,500 on the platform at same time. Hayward says it's the hardware, not the software, that might limit participation. "We believe we've done the largest single event in 2010 of anyone in the industry."
Unlike Second Life's virtual currency, Hayward says VCopious users spend real money for in-world transactions, and that virtual private environments are a way to monetize social media, representing, says Hayward, "a brand new gigantic market."

Source: Ken Hayward, VCopious
Writer: Sue Spolan
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