Gaia Online: An Escape For Teens

Posted on April 23, 2007

GigaOm has an article about Gaia Online, a virtual world and online hangout inhabited by teens. Gaia already has considerable traffic with 300,000 users logging in each day. GigaOm says most of the activity at Gaia actually takes place in the online forums.

The largest cohort of activity (wholly 30%) takes place in the Gaia forums, and here's where the truly staggering numbers come in: Averaging a million posts a day and a billion posts so far, Gaia's message boards (with topics running the gamut from pop culture to politics) is second only to Yahoo in popularity.

A million posts a day is very impressive. MySpace has matured so the fickle teens have to go somewhere and it sounds like Gaia is one of their destinations. GigaOm's post also has an interview with Gaia Online CEO Craig Sherman who seems to be billing Gaia as an escape for those fleeing MySpace and other social networks.

Craig Sherman has been thinking what the value-proposition of his site in the era of MySpace or Facebook. "In a world where teens are constantly branding and packaging themselves" on sites like those, he points out, "Gaia is where you get away from it all."

Gaia, which offers the virtual world, forums, content rating and flash games, also has a way of making money that is not from advertising. They sell virtual fashion accessories and other "rare items."

Instead of monthly subscriptions, Gaia Online sells "rare items" - treasures, fantastically cool fashion accessories for player avatars, and so on - two offered a month for $2.50 each. Subscribers buy them via credit card, Pay Pay, cellphone - or cash on the barrel. ("We employ someone full time whose job is getting dollars and quarters" out of envelopes kids send them, Sherman notes.)

The article says Gaia Online also has advertising including a recent campaign for The Last Mimzy movie where Gaians were challenged to "accomplish a series of tasks in order to get their own special Gaian-only Mimzy (a super-intelligent bunny)."

Gaia is off to a fast stealthy start but there is competition from Habbo Hotel, Nicktropolis, WeeWorld and Cyworld. Some other virtual world startups including Club Penguin, Neopets, Webkinz and Areae.

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