Disney acquires children's social network Togetherville
Walt Disney Co. has acquired Togetherville, a social network for elementary school age children.
The deal, the terms of which were not disclosed, was completed last Friday, said Togetherville CEO and founder Mandeep S. Dhillon.
Togetherville seeks to mimic the experiences of online social networks such as Facebook but in a way that's protective of children under age 10 and can be monitored by parents. The site allows children to connect with their real-world friends in its virtual neighborhood.
"Togethervlle is very focused on trying to really reflect what the adult community has been doing on the Web and build a real online experience that adults enjoy for kids, but do it in a safe, COPA-complaint way," said Dhillon, referring to the safeguards established by the Child Online Protection Act.
The Togetherville deal is the lastest digital acquisition by Disney, which in July acquired social gaming company Playdom for $563 million. The co-presidents of Disney's Interactive Media Group recently outlined plans to invest more heavily on emerging technological platforms, while spending less money developing games for mature markets like the video game console business.
Dhillon said he set out to create a safe online network where his three children -- ages 9 and younger -- could learn and play while under the watchful eyes of their parents. The site offers games, such as one that allows kids to have virtual snowball fights. Children can watch videos that have been prescreened and come from sources like Pixar and Electric Co. Members of the community can also create electronic greeting cards and digital fireworks displays.
"What we try to do is reflect what kids' real-world experiences are with the online environment," Dhillon said.
Dhillon said he is excited by the Disney acquisition, noting, "They're one of the most amazing family brands on Earth."
The acquisition was first reported by TechCrunch. Disney issued a statement Thursday morning confirming that Togetherville will become a wholly owned subsidiary, reporting to the interactive media group.
-- Dawn C. Chmielewski