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Startup sends school-shooting alert (it's marketing 'fun')

On the campus of the University of North Carolina, a startup called Bevii sends an e-mail bulletin. It mimics the university's alert system and likens the company's impact on the market to a school shooting.

I am sure the people behind this are so much fun in real life.
Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The lovely thing about startups is that the minute you create one, you know you're going to change the world.

Users will flock to you, your fellow men and women will adore you, and, in 20 years' time, your name will still be uttered with reverence and awe.

This must be the feeling of those behind a startup called Bevii.

As soon I tell you its slogan, you will be slapping your head and wondering why you didn't think of it: "Social Network. Meet Real Life."

As if a slave to its own motto, Bevii, run by students on the University of North Carolina campus, decided to launch via a marketing wheeze.

As Valleywag reports, the company sent out an e-mail bulletin to 17,000 students.

Its conceit was that, for all the world, it looked like an emergency alert. This was enhanced by the headline: INFORMATIONAL BULLETIN FROM ALERT CAROLINA.

So very clever.

The marketing message then proceeded to describe how Chapel Hill police were investigating the fact that "in broad daylight, shots were fired on Franklin Street."

The victim was "a blue, outdated social network."

The shooter was, of course, Bevii, "a mobile, location-based social network only available to select Universities."

Then there was the line that truly showed that these Bevii people were of a higher educational caste: "Over 500 students have already been affected by the victim."

But the victim was Facebook, wasn't it? Or did I miss something?

Still, I think Bevii killed it, don't you? This was so very "real life."

Some seem not so sure. Here's venture debt analyst Thomas Schroder, who tweeted: "Sending out fake campus alert to promote your startup? The WORST customer acquisition strategy I've ever heard of. Poor taste."

This he followed with: "Bevii, the startup that sent fake 'shots fired' alert to UNC students (from school network) is now blocked on university servers. Morons."

This was confirmed to The Daily Tar Heel by the University's CTO, Stan Waddell. No, not that the Bevii people are morons, merely that the site had been blocked.

The site's founder, Taylor Robinette, told The Daily Tar Heel: "I think that there was a little bit of negative reaction, but I think there was some positive reaction and people who thought it was fun."

Who those people might have been, and what they normally do for fun, is currently unknown.