The Deal
Sunday, October 26, 
4:26 am

[Posted on January 29, 2008 - 12:05 PM]

Palm Desert, Calif--Last year, it was Barry Bonds. This year, John Oates, one half of the 1980s pop band Hall & Oates, is expected to be the celebrity sighting at the Demo show in Palm Desert. Just as Bonds appeared on stage during a Demo presentation to support mobile content startup Bling Software, Oates will make a cameo during's Demo presentation this afternoon.

For the uninitiated, Demo is a twice a year conference where scores of startups present their wares on stage for six minutes each. It's considered to be a good place to launch a company because of all the assembled press members, venture capitalists and technology executives in the audience. I'll be one of the many providing updates about the best and worst startups launching at Demo over the next couple days.

hall_and_oates.jpgIt's hard to tell where fits in. It's one of those startups that provides a neat service but would seem to provide investors with limited upside. It reminds me of a more useful eJamming, a startup that presented at last year's Demo that allows bandmates or strangers to play a song with each other over the Internet even though they are in different cities. offers a video library that allows users to learn how to play a song from one of the original recording artists of that song. So, if for example, you are a Rush fan, you can pay $9.95 to access the online video of Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson teaching you how to play Tom Sawyer.

Co-founder and CEO Tim Huffman told me that two of the barriers to entry the company has attempted to put up is its agreement with the publishers to license the songs and the participation of about 50 professional musicians such as Lifeson and Hall (pictured at left), who have agreed to make a teaching video accessible online. Huffman has built a useful and defensible platform that should see traction in the marketplace if it can raise the capital necessary to attract that audience in the first place. Hopefully, Daryl Hall's performance of 'She's Gone' later this afternoon will help more than Barry Bonds' cameo last year helped Bling. - Joshua Jaffe

Joshua Jaffe is general manager of

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