Piczo Merging With Stardoll To Create Teen-Focused Network


Five-year-old, San Francisco-based teen social network Piczo appears to have given up hope of challenging bigger rivals on its own. It has decided to join with Stockholm-based teen-girl dress-up site Stardoll to make a joint run at the young-teen demographic. Piczo will remain an independent brand. But the two companies, along with a third network member, the free, ad-supported Paperdoll Heaven, are launching the Stardoll Network. It’s clearly a play to grow its audience for advertisers targeting the demo, but also to swell the base of fee-paying teens.

Launched in 2004, photo-centric Piczo claims over 30 million registered members, and 10 million monthly uniques, with most users aged 13 to 16. But that’s still tiny compared with the likes of Bebo. Stardoll, which has been a hit with teenage girls, reaching 27 million accounts, allows users to dress up dolls and has been courting pop stars to create their own alter-egos. Larger rivals to Piczo, like Bebo, carry more clout than the San Francisco outfit, and it’s true to say that Piczo isn’t really matching their ilk yet, but the bigger nets are pitched at an older demographic.

Launched initially in December, Paperdoll Heaven was the original moniker for Stardoll itself when it started in 2004. While Stardoll includes micropayment options and Piczo has a premium Piczo Plus option, Paperdoll Heaven will be ad-supported. So far, though, it’s only advertising its Stardoll Network partners.



It is a weak move, because they were out of money. But hopefully the few remaining employees and founder got a bit out of it. There were a handful of folks working for free at the end.


This is a pretty weak move for Piczo, and it makes only marginal sense for Stardoll. They could have developed the kind of drag-and-drop Myspace profile technology Piczo has within a year. Sure, their audience wouldn't mind creating more elaborate profiles but it's not so much of a value-add to warrant a merger. It seems Stardoll is trying to monetize better through advertising – which they need if they're going to pay the exorbitant licensing fees to use the many celebrity images they currently use without permission.

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