[Salon] Who wants to date a dot-com CEO?

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From: Adam Rifkin (Adam@KnowNow.Com)
Date: Thu Sep 28 2000 - 22:43:30 PDT



Oh my gosh, they're not kidding.


Too bad she's not looking for a 25-year-old dot-com CEO... :)

Who wants to date a dot-com CEO?
By Katharine Mieszkowski

A Net executive offers herself up as the prize in a "win a date with our
CEO and make her mother happy" contest.

Sep. 22, 2000 | Picture yourself trying to say "path to profitability"
three times, fast, with a straight face. How about groveling for a few more
million from stony-faced suits to keep your company afloat? Post-dot-com
downturn, it's got to be humiliating being any kind of Web CEO.

But there may be no dot-com CEO role with as much potential for
embarrassment as that of Liz Kalodner, CEO of SocialNet.com, a dating and
relating site. Because right now, Kalodner is being offered up as the
"prize" in a SocialNet.com contest called "Win a date with our CEO and make
her mother happy."

"It's the perfect marriage of my personal needs and the company's goals,"
says Kalodner gamely. "I'm looking for a husband -- go ahead and print that
in bold. I'm 39, and my mother wants grandchildren," she says, goading me
on: "You can't ask me embarrassing questions. This is what I do for a living."

Kalodner, one of those busy, busy, busy Silicon Valley CEOs, "hasn't been
out much lately," the site informs us. "This has the staff concerned, and
her mother downright worried." (Hmm, have you ever fretted about your CEO's
love life?)

So the company devised a contest to hook up Kalodner with four dates in
four time zones, and also to seek to prove the effectiveness of SocialNet's
"matching technology." You can't accuse Kalodner of not "eating her own dog
food," as the saying goes.

To enter, men between the ages of 30 and 50 in the United States fill out a
profile on the site describing who they are and what they're looking for,
and then -- holy virtual yenta! -- the site's system determines whether
they might be a good match for Kalodner, based on the profile she filled
out. If the system determines the guy's a potential match, the would-be
Romeo sends an e-mail to Kalodner explaining why he should be chosen to be
her date. On Oct. 16, 12 finalists selected by Kalodner, her staff and --
yes -- her mother will be posted on the site, and SocialNet members will
vote on whom she should actually go out with.

Since the contest launched Sept. 14, more than 100 men whose profiles
"match" Kalodner's have sent her e-mails, as have 200 rejected by the
profiling system but begging to get into the running anyway.
Here's what one of Kalodner's vying suitors wrote to make his case: "Your
picture and profile are too good to be true. With that great smile and your
background, the contest could be as competitive as the Olympics. I am ready
to compete to win your love." One mother wrote in to recommend her son, who
is a top dog at Universal, asserting that he would think she was nuts, but
that the two have a lot in common.
Maybe the ego gratification of having all these guys pleading to go out
with you outweighs the mortification of having your own mother opining on
the Web site you run about why you haven't yet found a mate.

"Look, Liz is a good catch. She's smart. She doesn't need anybody with
money," Kalodner's mother, Debra, encourages suitors. "You don't have to be
rich because she's self-supporting. She has a good sense of humor because
you can't get through life if you can't laugh. And she doesn't have much of
a temper." Debra Kalodner is reputedly already shopping for her
mother-of-the-bride dress in anticipation of the contest's happy outcome.

Maybe Mama Kalodner and the mother of that Universal muckety-muck could
just meet -- perhaps in a chat room -- and do the deal on behalf of their
respective offspring, and the enterprising kids wouldn't have to be
bothered with wasting time on dating first.

The SocialNet CEO does insinuate that she fully grasps the inherent
weirdness of her situation. At the top of her profile, she writes: "I bet
the CEO of Amazon never had to do this." And in her profile, where we learn
about everything from her worst date ever ("the man who rearranged my
furniture and rifled through all my mail, all within the first 15 minutes
of our meeting") to her aspirations for the ideal family life ("a family
that doesn't appear on 'Cops' or 'Jerry Springer'"), we also learn: "My
staff and my mother have conspired to turn my personal life into a
promotional event."

Maybe the CEO-as-date promotional event had to happen given all the hoopla
about dot-com gold diggers and hot Silicon Valley bachelors. Besides, CEOs
are already expected to give up every minute of their personal lives -- why
not make their quests for romance feed into the bottom line too?


We must not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time. -- T.S. Eliot

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