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Habbo Hotel Turns 10

Habbo Hotel, one of the world’s largest virtual communities, turned 10 today. Starting as “Mobile Disco,” an interactive chat for a friend’s band, it has become a leading teen community and social game site.

In 1999 Sampo Karjalainen and Aapo Kyrölä started Mobile Disco in their native Finland. The next year, as it grew in popularity, they ginned up what has since become a popular element of online environments, the micro-payment model, and launched Habbo Hotel. Since then 172 million folks have churned out a character, grabbed a room, thrown up decorations, chatted, played games and whatever else it is kids get up to these days.

Now, 10 years later, micro-payments and “virtual goods” (buying and selling make-believe furniture and clothing and so on) is big business. Sulake (the company Karjalainen and Kyrölä created to develop Habbo) the best quarterly sales results in its history, $20 million.

Of course it hasn’t always been roses. Only a year ago, things weren’t looking great for Sulake, which had to lay off 40 employees due to a revenue decline of $14 million from the year before. In 2007, the Dutch police arrested a kid for stealing $5,800 worth of make-believe furniture. (No I’m not kidding.)

Here’s a little numerical snapshot of our Finnish friends.

  • 172 million characters created
  • 40 million monthly user hours
  • 15 million monthly unique visitors
  • 120 million active user-created rooms
  • Users from over 150 countries
  • 11 languages

Happy birthday, Habbo Hotel. We’ve sent you a lifetime supply of umlauts. (OK, it’s no Kalevala, but it’s better than a poke in the eye with a broken Nokia.)

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