Virtual or Real: A look at the Thriving IMVU Virtual Economy

By Kevin Henshaw, VP of Business Development and GM of Revenue

Most people see IMVU as a fun online destination for millions of its customers, where they create and customize their 3D avatars and make long-lasting connections with people from around the world. However, IMVU also hosts a thriving virtual economy with the world’s largest virtual goods catalog, where IMVU customers not only shop for all their avatar needs from the more than 15 million products but also make them. Today, we’ll break down the complexities of IMVU’s economy and show you the general outlines of the flow of IMVU currency.

The IMVU catalog is a unique marketplace where sellers and buyers are one and the same. The catalog is a wonderful expression of digital goods makers who we call Creators. The buyers are both Creators and non-Creators – who are of course first and foremost here to engage and interact with their connections via the 3D chat.

To support this massive virtual industry, IMVU has built a complex, large-scale economy that involves both real and virtual currency and many entry and exit points. A delicate balance is needed and maintained for this economy with the combined efforts of IMVU, its content creators and reseller partners.

IMVU, its customers, Creators and other participants engage in a multi-channel exchange of four types of currency: Real-world money, Credits, Promotional Credits and Developer Tokens. Each currency type can be bought, earned or spent in different ways.

IMVU sells Credits to its users, and provides tools for making products to its Creators. IMVU also provides multiple ways to earn Promotional Credits and ways to spend all virtual currency types, thereby removing them from the economy.

Many IMVU users, including Creators, buy Credits from IMVU with real money. They also earn free promotional credits via various partner offers and activities provided by IMVU. They spend the purchased or earned credits on shopping in the catalog for clothes, furniture and gifts, to buy music from IMVU’s music store and to submit their own products to the shop if they are Creators.

IMVU Creators also earn Credits when someone purchases an item from IMVU’s shop that they have created. They earn developer tokens when their products are bought with promotional credits and use those tokens to advertise themselves on IMVU or to pay for the fee to submit their new products to the shop. The illustration above shows the multitude of ways of their interactions.

Yes, it is indeed as complicated and interlaced as it looks! So you decide – what is more complex? The real world economy or IMVU’s virtual economy?

IMVU Celebrates Nine Years and Expands to Mobile

By Brett Durrett, Chief Executive Officer

In April of 2004, IMVU opened its doors and set forth to connect people around the world. Nine years later, and thanks to the millions of passionate, talented customers, IMVU established itself as the ultimate platform for connection, self-expression and creation. In 2004, we understood that the platform was important but even more important was helping people meet new friends. That vision of bringing people together holds true today and is reinforced with every new relationship, friendship or marriage that has been formed on IMVU.

I started at the company eight years ago when we were a handful of people in a cramped office space in downtown Palo Alto.  I remember the buzz in the room when we had 100 people online. The team, the number of customers and IMVU’s product offering have grown substantially and I am grateful to all of our customers for making this growth possible. With more than 15 million products in the IMVU Shop and more than 500,000 IMVU Creators adding products all the time, IMVU proudly features the world’s largest virtual goods catalog — an amazing accomplishment that we attribute to the talent and dedication of our creators.

We’re proud to have accomplished so much in the last nine years. We also realize that we have many ways that we can make our products even better.  We are excited by the challenges and will be working to keep earning the privilege of having you as our customers.

I am also excited to announce the upcoming release of two new products to help our customers stay connected and introduce new people to IMVU’s amazing community.  We are responding to many customer requests to offer an Android version of IMVU 2Go and it will be available later this month. In June, we will be offering an iOS tablet app that allows full 3D avatar chat.

On behalf of all IMVU employees, I want to express a special thank you to the IMVU community for all of your ongoing passion and support over the last few years. We’re grateful to have you as customers!

Before we go, we thought we’d break down some of our major milestones. Check out the infographic below to learn how IMVU became the largest user generated virtual goods catalog.

 Cheers to 2013!

Creator Showcase – The March Edition

By KatieMarie

 

 

Today we are unveiling a monthly series called the IMVU Creator Showcase where we will highlight certain Creators for their achievements. Whether you are a well-known Creator, or just starting out, you could be featured here!

March 2013’s Creator Showcase recognizes member bibirasta! Bibirasta has been part of our community since 2005 and has worked her way from being a casual user  to becoming an accomplished mesher i.e. a creator of her own 3D models. Her meshes are well known for the “BM” or “BoomMastic” look, which has a strong customer following. They are derived from and developed into thousands of products by other Creators and contributed to our catalog with more than 15 million products.  Bibirasta is currently studying modeling and animation, so look for new products coming soon, in addition to the 2,500 plus items currently in her catalog!

         

 

bibirasta:

I enjoy with what I make, and I like that the people have a good time with my creations :) . I care about answering all my messages, although sometimes it takes a little time, right now I am a little disconnected, because I am studying modeling and 3D animation, but very soon I will return with new projects :)

IMVU’s Creator community is large, diverse and extremely creative. We are proud to showcase them via the Creator Showcase.

 

Community Spotlight – The March Edition

By: Varsha

April is around the corner and IMVU community is recovering from its St. Patrick’s Day celebrations and getting ready for spring at the same time!

Like every year, St. Patrick’s Day brought clovers, emerald green outfits, rainbows, pots of gold cleverly displayed in chat rooms and, of course, the Luck of the Irish for everyone! Parties and parades took place all around IMVU on Sunday, March 17th. Plus, our community gleefully participated in our Photo Stream contest to get their own pot of credit prizes. We asked them to dress up their avatars and decorate their party rooms to the hilt in the holiday theme, invite their friends and do what they do best – have fun. They captured the fun in colorful, vibrant and creative photos and shared them to their photo stream for all the community to enjoy. We here at IMVU loved browsing through all these photos and picking out the winners for the contest. Here are some that caught our attention:

Now we are eagerly anticipating the enchanting spring season that lies ahead. We have lots of seasonal products springing up in our catalog, which is overflowing with more than 10 million products, themed bundles as well as some promotions in the works. Be sure to peruse all of the latest goodies and make sure your avatar has a spring in his/her step!

Happy Spring everyone!

 

 

A picture is worth a thousand words…

By: Varsha

IMVU community members take great pride in dressing up their avatars to the hilt and decorating their chat rooms to perfection. Each and every outfit and room is a perfect showcase of their unique talent, artistry and creative skills. What better way to show off their creations than capturing them in photos while in the 3D Chat app? Hundreds of thousands of photos are being snapped every day and shared within IMVU.

IMVU members of course want to tout these awesome photos to their friends not yet on IMVU via various social networks that they engage with. Social sharing is part of all of our lives and photo sharing even more so. Telling someone how much fun they are having on IMVU is one thing but showing it via photos is quite another. That is exactly what our customers can now easily and effectively do.

Our recently introduced Photo Stream feature allows the IMVU community members to share their photos on their Facebook wall or Pinterest board with just a click. They get to “show and tell” about their activities on IMVU and entice their friends to join in the fun. The photos they share tell their story and their love for IMVU. Plus, along with bragging rights our customers get to earn some IMVU Credits as they share their own photos or our staff picked Photo of the Day to their social networks , and their friends join IMVU via those photos!

We are enjoying the flurry of activity our customers are engaged in sharing their photos and welcoming their friends and family into the IMVU community. Keep being social shutterbugs and have fun!

Gone Till Next Movember

Hi everyone! The epic month of Movember is finally coming to a close and the world has surely made an impact on bringing awareness to men’s health. By now you’re well aware Movember is not only responsible for sprouting thousands of moustaches, but more importantly raises awareness for prostate and testicular cancer. In four short weeks, MoBros everywhere endured the painstaking task of maintaining their respective upper lip coats, also known as The Moustache. All of us here at IMVU are very proud of the strides our team and the IMVU community have made to support the cause. Our MoBros have truly pruned and groomed their way to success! Which of our staff ‘staches do you think is the best?

IMVU avatars also shared in getting the word out about the cause. We saw so many great Movember-inspired avatars that we wanted to show off some of our favorites. Be sure to check out the Movember album on Facebook now! Again, more than 2.9 million of you IMVU users received the special Movember moustaches. We appreciate all the support all of you in the IMVU community have provided and we look forward to another successful Movember next year!

Mo’ving Through Movember

We’re halfway into Movember and Movember efforts around the world are well underway. The team here at IMVU is busy grooming and pruning their respective ‘staches to help bring awareness to men’s health. Take a look at our MoBros’ progress so far!

IMVU avatars are also getting in on the Movember action. Earlier this month we announced that we will be gifting Movember moustaches to IMVU users for a limited time. More than 2.3 million of you IMVU users have received the special Movember moustaches. These virtual lip accessories have really taken off and many of you are proudly sporting/sprouting digital whiskers. Some of you have even posted your inspired new looks on IMVU’s Photo Stream. Here’s a look at some of our favorites.

Throughout the month of November, we hope to continue to bring awareness to the Movember movement. If you’re interested, you can help by donating to the Movember movement at http://us.movember.com/donate/. The funds are directed to programs run directly by Movember and their men’s health partners. Which Movember-inspired avatars are your favorites?

Movember Movement on IMVU

Movember, formerly known by it’s more common moniker, November, is a month-long event where people around the world band together as “Mo Bros” and “Mo Sistas” to grow and support everyone’s favorite form of lip foliage — moustaches! The goal? To bring awareness to men’s health issues, more specifically prostate and testicular cancer. Now that Movember is officially upon us, we here at IMVU are proudly taking part in the big movement. To show our support for the cause, we’ll be growing and grooming a bevvy of ‘staches here at IMVU headquarters and sharing our progress right here on the IMVU blog.


Your IMVU avatars will also be able to show their support for this very real-life cause with their own virtual lip bristles! Designed specifically for Movember, these nifty moustaches will be given out as FREE gifts to users for a limited time. Male avatars will be able to sport the “handlebar” look, while female avatars can spice up their outfits with a very fashionable paper cutout.


With more than 100 million registered avatars on IMVU, let’s do our part to show our support and bring awareness to this very important cause. Be sure to wear your moustache during the whole month and help draw awareness to Movember.

If you’re interested in donating to the Movember movement, please visit http://us.movember.com/donate/. The funds are directed to programs run directly by Movember and their men’s health partners. What sort of moustache are you planning to show off this Movember?

Join us in the Movember movement!

SMS Payments – From over 60 Countries!

IMVU community is global and growing every day. We have already helped our members from hundreds of countries create over 100 million avatars!  To dress up these avatars and decorate their customized chat rooms, our virtual catalog offers over 10 million products! Of course, IMVU credits are needed to go on a shopping spree to snap up these items and we continue to make it easy for our members to buy these credits.

Today, we offer multiple ways to purchase IMVU credits in our store including SMS and home phone payments. With our mobile payment provider partners, we are proud to make it easy for users from over 60 countries to buy from our store using their cell phones!

Want to know which countries are supported for phone payments? You can buy using your mobile phone, from Argentina and Belgium through to the United Arab Emirates and Venezuela, and now including Bulgaria, Croatia and the Ukraine! Just visit the cellphone purchase page and check out the complete list of countries.

We hope you enjoy your IMVU experience and meeting people from around the world!

Manila Flood Relief Effort – Donation Update

Thank you once again to all the IMVU community members who showed their support for the flood victims in Manila by purchasing the Manila Relief Bundle from IMVU. 2,900 caring IMVU users stepped up and contributed toward our goal of raising funds for the flood victims. We appreciate everyone who participated!



Various charitable organizations are hard at work in the Philippines helping the flood victims put their lives back together after the devastation. Aid is being sought and obtained from across the world. With the help of the IMVU community,  we were able to raise $5,800 by selling the Manila Relief Bundle and have now donated all the proceeds to UNICEF USA Fund’s emergency response in the Philippines. This organization is helping hundreds of thousands of children affected by the severe storms and flooding and the contribution toward their goal is going to be invaluable.

Our entire team in Manila and their friends and family appreciate all the aid that has been pouring in and want to extend their heart-felt thanks to the IMVU community. We at IMVU are also extremely grateful for the support and generosity of our users.