Is there a social networker in the (private equity) house?

Last night I attended a deal sourcing presentation by Evaluserve, a private equity services firm.  The Columbia Business School alumni club of NYC sponsored the event as well as Cresa Partners.

I was one of (I think) two VCs in the room, so the rest of the folks must have been bankers, PE, hedge fund folks, etc.  The presenter discussed some interesting deal sourcing/origination strategies and focused quite a bit on the use of websites, web services, and groups to find new deals.

What was particularly interesting for me was when the presenter asked the room full of (I’m guessing 50 people) who had ever attended a meetup.

My hand went up and when I looked around the room, there were no other hands raised!

Meetup.com certainly has more awareness among the tech and VC communities, but I wanted to see if there were some groups that looked like they might be appealing for PE folks to source deals.  Here are the ones that looked interesting to me…

Now, I only spent about 10 minutes looking for these Meetup groups, but with some more effort I am sure I could have dredged up some other interesting ones.

What’s the bottom line?

Outside of the tech community, business social networking has penetrated a tiny fraction of the addressable market.  LinkedIn, Spoke, Doostang, Xing, and various other social networking sites are only the beginning.  New tools are needed to make these sites more accessible to a non-technical audience, and integrations are needed between the social networking platforms and common IT productivity tools.  Even with the slew of social networking utility sites and plugins, there is still a huge opportunity here.  Identifying the winners in the space will be difficult, and for me, that means there’s alot of room for new companies to make an impact.

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