Real success, virtually speaking

Tim Willert

GLENDALE -- In Doug Dohring's world, virtual pet owners select from

more than 40 different species and attach their own names and


They navigate their way through a mythical world called Neopia, and

earn NeoPoints by participating in games and contests. With their virtual

currency they buy pet food and open up their own shops in the Neopian


Fantasy? Perhaps.

But the reality is that Dohring, an Internet-saavy Glendale

businessman who acquired from a couple of British college

students less than two years ago, has turned the youth-oriented Web site

into an Internet juggernaut.

"It's actually grown a little faster than we expected," Dohring said

Monday from his office in Glendale, where is based. "But we

fully expected it to be a large, global youth community."

In fact, NeoPets captured the top ranking for the amount of time

viewers spent logged on according to Nielsen//NetRatings, which measures

Internet audience behavior.

For the week ending June 17, more than 584,000 visitors spent an

average of more than 1.5 hours viewing the site from their home.

"There is no site that really compares with us," Dohring said. "There

are other youth sites, but they don't even come close in terms of overall


The 14-month-old company has 11.5 million members worldwide, and

registers new members at the rate of 40,000 per day. That's compared to

6,000 per day in April 2000. On June 16 of this year, NeoPets registered

70,000 new members.

"This is going through the roof," said Dohring, 43, who owns and

operates an automotive research firm.

In April, Dohring signed an agreement with a company in Singapore to

develop Asian language NeoPets sites.


* WHAT:, an interactive community of virtual pet owners.

* SIZE: 11.5 million members worldwide.

* LOCATION: NeoPets is based in Glendale at 412 W. Broadway.


* OWNER: Glendale resident Doug Dohring.


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