Headquarters: San Francisco
Founded: April 2008
GameCrush co-founder Eric Strasser can make his company's pitch in one short sentence: "GameCrush is a website where guys pay to play video games with girls."
At 60 cents a minute for games, that's a potential killer business model for the company and the "playdates" it shares the cash with. It's a Web axiom that games and dating sites are two of the three proven online money-making business models, and GameCrush teeters on the edge of plunging straight into the third. (Its homepage currently features the profiles of playdates like MistressKittenator and ImNotAnAngel.)
The site's origin story is based on beer: Guys can walk into bars and buy a girl a drink -- so why can't they do the same online? "If you think the ratio is bad in a sports bar, think about what it's like on a multiplayer game on Xbox," Strasser says. "It's practically impossible to find a girl to play, let alone get to know who she is."
GameCrush soft-launched in March, and immediately crashed under the traffic deluge. "We thought we were building a corner bar -- and then 10,000 people showed up," Strasser says. The team pulled back to private beta, spent six months rebuilding the site from scratch, and went live Monday.
GameCrush was by far the show's most controversial startup -- compelling enough to make it into the finalist round, but creepy enough to turn off much of the audience. TechCrunch editor Sarah Lacy tweeted "i like gamecrush but always feel a bit like i need a shower after they present."
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