“2010 was a record year for Habbo Hotel in many ways. Not only did we celebrate our 10 year anniversary, but our user base, sales and profitability continued to increase,” was a comment by the former CEO of Sulake - Timo Soininen back in 2011.
Sulake is taking a pretty significant step to revitalize the Habbo Hotel brand by becoming an online platform for games. Their goal is to leverage their existing userbase to become almost like a mixture of Steam and Facebook, complete with in-game purchases, achievements, and the social features that keep users coming back.
To promote their new API, Sulake is now running a game development competition where they will give €5.000 to the winner, and €2.500 to the two runner ups. The competition is only to Finnish developers at first, which they say is to be sure that they have their API working perfectly and well documented before they have their global launch. The competition ends November 16th.
Sulake, the Finnish company behind Habbo Hotel that has some 10 million active users a month globally, has run into its biggest difficulties as a company so far. The company has seen its fair share of challenges in the form of financial difficulties that resulted in shutting down its country offices outside of Finland. Last night The Kernel broke the news that Channel 4 in the UK would reveal some very disturbing material regarding the teenage community. The Kernel titled their piece as "Habbo exposed as a paedophile haven".
Before airing the piece on Habbo Hotel, Balderton Capital confirmed to the BBC that they will exit their investment in the business at zero value. The investment firm held a 13% stake in Sulake which by even careful estimates would have been in the low tens of millions. Since the Channel 4 piece ran, Tesco and WH Smith have withdrawn the Habbo Hotel gift cards from sale in the UK.
After news of layoffs at Sulake, the Finnish developer of the Habbo Hotel social community for teens, we spoke to CEO Paul LaFontaine, who told us that Habbo Hotel will further evolve into a platform on which third parties will be able to develop additional services. GamesIndustry International recently got up with Paul LaFontaine, where they discussed Habbo's market share and future plans with the service. The article is a good read if you're interested in the service, but below is a rundown of their stated plans.
We've just gotten off the phone with Sulake's CEO Paul LaFontaine about today's announcements. He did not want to comment on the specifics of the announcement, but what we really wanted to understand is what is the future direction Sulake will take. LaFontaine stated that Sulake is modernizing their strategy and this involves changes to how the company currently operates. A big part of the company's future will have to do with games and user generated content.
Sulake is also moving towards a model where their current Habbo community will further evolve into a platform on which third parties will be able to develop additional services on. LaFontaine did not want to comment at this moment on what kind of a time frame we are talking about at the moment. However, he did disclose that they are working with some third parties today already.
According to Finnish publication Dome.fi, Sulake the creator of Habbo Hotel, will be laying off some 40-60 people from their workforce. In total, they have about 210 people working for the company so this is effectively 25% of their workforce. We also heard this from a different source, so the chatter is definitely picking up. Sulake.com was down as of just now and there is no official announcement on this so far.
In showing the door to 25% of their workforce, Sulake will also close all of their 11 country offices according to the article on Dome.fi.
After leading Sulake for 10 years, Timo Soininen, steps down from the position of CEO and joins the board of directors, according to a Sulake press release. The board of directors has named Paul LaFontaine the new CEO. He was previously the vice president for Global Distribution at Disney Playdom. Timo Soininen has effectively taken the company from a small startup in the turn of the millenium to a multi-million euro business globally. Sulake is famous for its Habbo Hotel, online social community for teens. This March we reported on Sulake's revenues growing more than 20% from 2009 to 2010.
Sulake has today announced their figures for fiscal year 2010, as well as some changes to their ownership of online properties. In 2010, Sulake turned over 56,2 million euros, which is over 20% more than in 2009. EBITDA for 2010 was at 5,4 million euros profit for the year was at 1,6 million euros. In addition to announcing their financials, Sulake has stated that they have today sold IRC-Gallery to Somia Reality Oy, which is run by a few former IRC-Gallery employees and funded by Lifeline Ventures and a few individual investors.
2010 was the best year for Habbo Hotel and I thought this would be one news regarding Habbo Hotel for quite some time to come. But success is not stationary and it continues to move ahead. The world’s largest teen virtual community and social game, Habbo registered its 200 millionth user just with the start of January. Quite a news since its tenth anniversary.
Teenagers arond the world seem to be going crazy about Sulake's Habbo Hotel - the company announced today that 2010 was their best year ever with December being the busiest month. Habbo Hotel boasted 4.5M€ revenue from virtual goods in December alone. Unique monthly users also peaked the same month reaching 8.7 million, one-third of whom accessed the game through the Facebook application. Almost 200 million unique active characters have been registered to the site throughout its ten-year existance, 42.5 million out of them in 2010 alone. Habbo Hotel has also been making more money this year than last - annual user revenue grew by 25% compared to 2009.
The Swedish social games maker SLX Games has taken its first 3D MMO to Facebook. Their Nord game has now been ported to Facebook, by taking advantage of Java technology that works on all major platforms including Mac, Linux and Windows. They will try to extend Facebook's social reach into 3D in a manner where people can socialize in a way that is common in other parts of the internet. Nord allows players to design their own virtual worlds and fill it with their own events as well as parties.
The Finnish online gaming company behind Habbo Hotel, Sulake, has reported it's 2009 earnings along with H1 2010 figures. In 2009, Sulake accumulated a loss of 4.4 million euros. However, it also reported that for 2010 revenue reached 29.1 million euros which is 20% higher than in 2009 in the same period. Furthermore, EBITDA in the same period increased 63% to 3.5 million euros with a solidly positive cash flow, according to the company blog post.
Sulake Corporation, the creators of the popular teenage social network Habbo Hotel, have reported very strong financial figures for their first quarter of 2010. Between January and March, Sulake's revenue grew by more than 25 percent compared to Q1 in 2009. Sales for the first three months of 2010 were $20 million (€14.7 million).
Back in October we wrote about the negotiations Sulake was having with its employees about reducing the work force. The plan back then was to reduce the workforce by 20%, which would have meant something along the lines of 40 people. They ended up sacking 28 people, to cut costs, and thus stayed well below the initial plan of 20%. Juhani Lassila, their Communication Exec stated in the Finnish M&M article that the current restructuring and cuts have dramatically improved their profitability.
While 28 people were fired, I've heard from close sources that others have left the company of their own will and the environment isn't all that lively inside the company. This of course is completely natural when a startup that has grown to a multinational gaming house has its first real employee negotiations and ends up cutting its workforce by this much.
According to Kauppalehti, Sulake Corporation's 2008 was by a small margin a profitable one. The group of companies turned over 50,1 million euros and managed to create a 1 million euro profit on it. The company's earnings before tax were still in the red, but the IFRS calculated tax receivables turned the company statements profitable. The company has been injected with some 45 million euros of investor money of which some 20 million euros have been put aside for the losses of the previous years.
Sulake, the Finnish company behind the successful Habbo Hotel, has opened up Bobba to public beta. Bobba is a mobile only virtual world and is in very early stages of adoption. I was the 113th registered user on the site. This is something we heard of a while back with Sulake's report on their 2008 profit.
The Finnish corporation behind the overwhelmingly successful teen community site Habbo Hotel, Sulake, has reported a €4.8 million profit for the financial year 2008. The company also created record sales, up more than 20% in December, closing in at €50 million for the year 2008. Even though Sulake has made a nice profit, there is still plenty of downside to cover in the coming years to make up for all the loss it has accumulated over the years. This is the first year Sulake has reported a profit since its founding in 2000.
The Helsinki based virtual goods operator Sulake saw a profitable first half in 2008. According to Kauppalehti, net profits were around 400 000 euros. The revenues rose approximately 20% to 25,6 million euros for the first 6 months of 2008. Majority of the sales came from sale of virtual goods in Habbo Hotels world wide. According to the company, the annual growth for 2008 will be around 30%.
This is yet more proof, that the company is being heavily pumped into IPO condition. Some sources have told us that 2009 would be the year after all, as the sub-prime crisis smashed the IPO possibilities in 2007.
On Wednesday 27th of August, Sampo Karjalainen - a co-founder of Sulake - will tell the story of the company from the founding moments to this day in an event organised by Tommi Rissanen of Digibusiness - Digital content cluster.
Last year they had Jyri Engeström talk about the path that Jaiku took and it was a huge success, so they decided to redo it this year with another successful Finnish entrepreneur. I sure hope this continues every year and the industry keeps those successful speakers coming.
The event takaes place on the stairs of EGO at Unioninkatu 13, Helsinki at 2pm.
The event is free, but due to limited space - please RSVP to Tommi Rissanen if you're coming.
Habbo Hotel has registered one hundred millonth member. The user account was created in the UK. M&M, a Finnish marketing and advertising medium, has also stated in their news that in the five and half months of this year about 20 million new characters were created (3,5+ million a month).
M&M also reports on business figures (well, proportional at least). Sulake's May 2008 is 20% bigger in terms of revenue than in May 2007. It is also said to be positive, making this year the first profitable one.
Eero Aarnio, one of the most famous Finnish designers, has taken his work online to Playforia, the 3D virtual world created by Apaja. He created the timeless Ball Chair in 1963, which has been hugely popular around the world. Apaja, the company behind the casual gaming site, has built Playforia as part of their service portfolio to gather audience from the huge population living in online worlds. According to Asmo Halinen, one of the founders of the company, over 30% of the users in Playforia and Aapeli are over 30 year olds.
Apaja is venturing into the same direction as Sulake, who has done a lot of co-operation with 3rd party content suppliers in their Habbo Hotels. It's definitely a feasible way of bringing in valuable content and creating that link between the virtual and real world that users normally crave for in some sense.
Disclosure: the author is a former employee of Apaja.