An Untimely Demise for nTag

Boston-based nTag Interactive, considered a pioneer in social networking and interactivity technology for meetings, filed for bankruptcy and in all likelihood has ceased operations. It reportedly released all of its employees just before the start of this year.

Founded in 2002 and backed by venture capitalists, nTag gained fame for its electronic name badge, which used attendee profile information to connect parties, collected business-card information, and served as a personal digital assistant at meetings. Featuring a touch screen, it possessed real-time event scheduling, audience polling, and text messaging capabilities.

In recent years, nTag partnered with event management companies, such as Experient and technology-oriented iBahn, and offered pre- and post-meeting support besides on-site execution of the digital name badges. It allied with the ROI Institute to develop tools to analyze data gathered by the devices at meetings (e.g., attendee figures, audience poll results, lead counts) and then calculate return on investment for users.

The device was widely praised, but its cost and use of proprietary technology rather than a commercial mobile-device platform were said to be reasons for nTag's failure.

David Lutz, managing director of Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, in Aurora, OH, wrote on MiForum, MeetingNews' online community, "When nTag first came out, it was cool as heck. The price kept it from being widely adopted. Solutions that utilize mobile technology will ultimately win the day."

Reached by MN, meetings technology consultant Corbin Ball, of Bellingham, WA-based Corbin Ball Associates, lamented, "I am sad to see any technology company go. The nTag product was a good one."

There has been no official statement by nTag. Calls went unanswered, and its website, www.ntag.com, has not been updated.

The major backers of nTag were Dallas-based Sevin Rosen Funds and Pilot House Ventures in Boston. The latter declined comment, and Sevin Rosen did not return MN's queries.

Ball suggested the two companies pulled the plug amid the severe economic downturn, which he said will hurt firms leveraged with VC funding and expensive, proprietary technology products.

Originally published Feb. 2, 2009