SF Giants pitcher to become first athlete to host a “virtual” event

Thursday, San Francisco Giants pitcher Brian Wilson (the guy with the beard) plans to announce he’s the first pro athlete in history to host a virtual event. He’s even got a slogan:

“Fear the beard, not the technology.” It’s all an effort to show that virtual shows on mobile phones and PCs may be a better way to reach large groups of people without having to host an event in a big town hall or convention center.

Wilson’s virtual event will be in a virtual San Francisco, of course, where you can see the prison Alcatraz. He’ll take viewers on a virtual tour of the town — and of course show off the technology from ON24.

Here’s the presser:

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – September 29, 2011 – ON24, the global leader in webcasting and virtual event solutions, has selected San Francisco Giants Pitcher Brian Wilson to host VUE2011, ON24’s annual virtual user conference. While Wilson joins the likes of MC Hammer, Arianna Huffington and Newt Gingrich in speaking at a virtual event, the star pitcher of the San Francisco Giants is the first professional athlete to host such a summit.

VUE2011, set for November 17, will demonstrate the benefits of communicating virtually with large numbers of people without the time and expense associated with hosting an event in a physical location like a convention center or hotel ballroom. VUE2011 will feature business executives sharing virtual event best practices and will be available on all leading mobile devices, including iPhones.

“I’m hosting the VUE because I know what it takes to win, in both sports and business,” says Wilson. “Just like in baseball, business success requires confidence and communication. You also need the right equipment. Virtual events are the communications platform for high-performance companies. In the VUE, you’ll learn all about how to easily take your events—and your content—virtually anywhere. Remember, fear the beard, not the technology.”

VUE2011 marks a dramatic departure from traditional virtual events that normally mimic the trade shows and conventions that virtual events often either replace or supplement. With Wilson as a virtual 3-D host, attendees will be taken on a virtual tour of a magical San Francisco, where ON24 is headquartered. This custom 3-D environment will feature renderings of the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Union Square, and the “Painted Ladies.”

“We’ve also developed a unique application for video animation, using it to guide the VUE attendee from one place to another through a cable car. It’s very San Francisco, and it’s very fun,” said ON24 CMO Denise Persson. “We are designing this virtual environment as a showcase for all the creative possibilities available through our industry-leading platform,” she concluded.

“Because our event has a San Francisco theme featuring well-known local locations, Brian Wilson is an ideal virtual host choice,” explained Persson. “Not only is he a local sports hero, but he’s also a top performer, just like many of our clients. And, with his unique look and personality and quirky sense of humor, he’s a one-of-a-kind celebrity—a widely recognized talk show regular and reality TV star.” Persson added that virtual event producers are often able to attract celebrity hosts and speakers because of the convenience of participating in a virtual event.

“Our goal is to take the fear out of the technology and make our solutions more accessible and easier to use in every department within an enterprise,” said Persson. “As concerns about the economy increase, interest in virtual events grows stronger. Last year’s VUE was the world’s largest virtual event user conference, with over 4,000 registrants. We expect VUE2011 to be even more successful.”

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