Giants pitcher Brian Wilson sometimes seems like something right out of a video game. With his imposing statue, trademark beard, outlandish outfits, penchant for pithy one-liners and ability to throw small objects 97 miles per hour with pinpoint accuracy, Wilson could easily be the type of computer generated final boss who gives nightmares to even the most hardcore gamers.
That's why he is a perfect fit to be the "virtual emcee" of virtual events firm ON24 Inc.'s VUE2011 annual conference in San Francisco in November.
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Technically the conference isn't in San Francisco; more like a virtual version of the city by the bay. Since ON24 specializes in online conferencing, allowing people from all over the world to easily share the same virtual space at the click of a button, VUE2011 is taking place in an online representation of the city.
If there's a one person born to lead the conference's 4,000 attendees on a series of tours of a San Francisco just slightly skewed off from reality, it's the Giants ace.
Besides, now that the Giants' season is over, the team's star reliever needs some way to occupy his time.
"Fear the beard, not the technology," says Wilson in a promotional video for the event. "Fact." Check it out (story continues below):
"He is a closer, he is a winner," ON24 CEO Sharat Sharan told the San Francisco Chronicle about why they chose Wilson. "This is not just about the nerdy stuff. This is fundamentally about technology that's changing how people communicate."
Wilson is the first professional athlete to participate in one of ON24's virtual events but he's unlikely to be the last.
In a recent press release, ON24 revealed the details of survey of corporate it commissioned that gave the reasoning behind why professional athletes are the ideal representatives for virtual events:
64% say athletes don't talk in "corporate speak" and instead speak like "real people"
27% insist that sports has a true relevance to the business world
25% think we have developed trust in athletes by watching them perform on a regular basis
11% believe we hate our jobs and wish we could something we love like athletes do
In his true "is he just messing with us?" fashion, the company released another video of Wilson quibbling with the spot's writing and then storming off the set.
"Who wrote this," Wilson demands in what may or may not be mock disgust. "I don't fear my own beard. That's it, I'm out of here."