Moshi Monsters has big ambitions for little people
By Georgina Prodhan
LONDON (Reuters) - It may seem a leap from offering virtual pet monsters for adoption to building the next Facebook but Michael Acton Smith, the man behind kids' online craze Moshi Monsters, believes he could do it.
Fifteen million users, mostly children aged seven to 11, have already signed up for Moshi Monsters (www.moshimonsters.com), and the site is swiftly catching up with market leaders like Disney's Club Penguin.
Moshi Monsters offers a safe environment for children to exchange messages with their friends, do puzzles and nurture their adopted monsters -- cute, brightly colored creatures that utter Japanese-sounding noises and live in Monstro City.
Increasing numbers of affluent parents -- many of them "soccer mums and dads," according to online intelligence firm Hitwise -- are more than happy to hand over 5 pounds ($7.65) per month to keep their tots off sites designed for older audiences.
"We didn't want a Wild West where anything could happen," Smith told Reuters in a recent interview. Smith is chief executive of London-based Mind Candy, the social gaming company behind Moshi Monsters.
Unlike most websites, which try to make money through advertising or selling virtual goods while offering free services, Moshi Monsters relies completely on subscriptions for its revenue, and says it is already very profitable.
FACEBOOK FOR KIDS
Mind Candy is one of a clutch of social-gaming companies that have sprung up in London in recent years. The most well known is probably Playfish, the creator of Pet Society that was recently bought by Electronic Arts for $275 million. Continued...