The Walt Disney Company announced that it has acquired Club Penguin, one of the fastest-growing online virtual worlds for kids. The addition of Club Penguin to Disneyâ€™s existing online assets will further strengthen the companyâ€™s objective of establishing clear leadership in online virtual worlds for kids and families.
Club Penguin, which will be called Disneyâ€™s Club Penguin, will retain its URL (www.clubpenguin.com) and will remain based in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. The companyâ€™s three founders, Lane Merrifield, Dave Krysko and Lance Priebe, will join Disney and remain the senior management team of the unit. Merrifield, Club Penguinâ€™s chief executive officer, will become an executive vice president of The Walt Disney Internet Group (WDIG), reporting to WDIG President Steve Wadsworth. Disney plans no immediate changes to the operation or business model of Club Penguin.
Since its launch in October 2005, award-winning Club Penguin has grown to more than 700,000 current paid subscribers, and has achieved this remarkable subscriber and user growth with very limited marketing efforts, relying mostly on strong product and word of mouth awareness among kids. The site has more than 12 million activated users, primarily in the U.S. and Canada, and is one of the fastest growing online destinations for kids ages 6-14. The site features animated penguin avatars that inhabit a snow-covered virtual world, converse with other users, participate in group activities and create and furnish a virtual home with currency earned inside the game.
Financial details were not disclosed though Wall Street Journal is reporting $350 million in cash.