Social networking sites are all the rave in this modern technological age. People are drawn to applications that enable you to rekindle old ties and meet new friends at a click of a button. Imagine wearing your ratty old shirt and pajamas, sitting on a comfy chair, nibbling your favorite munchies and chatting with your friends like the social butterfly that you are. Who would have thought that this would ultimately be the defining point of socialization in the 21st century? Successful tech visionaries are hard to come by albeit the proliferation of computer programs everywhere, more so if you’re offering the same concept. Enter Catherine and David Cook whose business success story would truly serve as an inspiration to young adults.
Catherine and David are siblings whose social networking site, myYearbook is based in New Hope, Pennsylvania. They initially created the site on a whim during Spring break of 2005. Seems like the dorm room is the best place for conceptualizing successful websites as Catherine managed to persuade their elder brother, Geoff to invest in their project after having established some sites himself (EssayEdge.com and ResumeEdge.com) from a dorm room also back in 1997, another business success story worth mentioning.
April 2005 marked the launch of myYearbook, David was a junior and Catherine a sophomore at the time. The project was initially activated at the school they attended – Montgomery High School in New Jersey. At the course of the site’s progress, they opted to bring in games as an added feature. Thus in 2008, myYearbook partnered with Arkadium, a casual game developer, to bring in Flash based games for the users to enjoy. The games required Lunch Money – My Yearbook’s virtual currency – in order to be played, and the users generally loved the idea and started using it to purchase online games. Lunch Money can also be earned by members and used to purchase virtual gifts which in turn, can also be given to other members. Lunch Money also surpasses its virtual nature as it donates to worthy causes as the members seem fit. A testament to this is the donation that they made in 2010 to the earthquake victims of Haiti. A business success story is of course never complete when there is no worthy cause.
April 2009 saw the addition of Meebo – an instant messaging client – to the site, which provided real-time chatting among its members. November 2009 saw the launching of Chatter, a real-time stream that enables to bring together its members through media and file sharing and gaming. There were interesting games available in the stream: Ask Me, Rate Me, and 2 Truths and a Lie. These games required certain mechanics that helped the site’s members meet each other. By April 2010, the sibling’s business success story took turn into an unbelievable path – the Chatter feature already surpassed the 1 million posts per day mark – a feat so huge and single handedly achieved in just one year.
By January 2010, they launched a new site design to appeal to an older demographic, as the site was initially popular among the teen demographic. By May 2010, myYearbook launched an iPhone/iPod Touch and Android application. This enabled mobile phone users to utilize the Chatter feature and provide real-time feed to mobile devices. All this they were able to accomplish through their financers. myYearbook was able to raise $4.1 million from US Venture Partners and First Round Capital in 2006, and $12.8 million in a Series B round in 2008. Add to that their revenues in advertising, virtual currency sales and monthly subscriptions and you have a site that’s determined to beat the odds in the competitive world of social networking sites at any cost. Truly a one of a kind business success story. Not bad for a high school sibling tandem.