Kid Entrepreneur Catherine Cook On Building A Company At Age 15

Catherine Cook

Six years ago, at age 15, Catherine Cook and her brother Dave came up with the idea for myYearbook—a new way to meet classmates at her new high school. Today Catherine is 21 years old, recently graduated from Georgetown and just sold her company for $100 million! I had the opportunity to ask Catherine a few questions about myYearbook, her success, and the advantage and disadvantages that young entrepreneurs have to deal with.

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Quepasa and myYearbook Merge for $100 Million

mergerimage and cross-platform social game development studio Quepasa Games, has executed a definitive agreement to merge with myYearbook, the best place to meet new people on the web or mobile device, for $100 million, comprised of approximately $82 million in Quepasa common stock and approximately $18 million in cash.

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MyYearbook's Celebrity Chatter Launches With Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Lady Gaga and More

myYearbookContent from more than 50 popular celebrities, along with newsfeeds from Viacom entertainment properties, comprise a new chatter stream that went live yesterday for myYearbook‘s 20 million members. Distributing their tweets over multiple services to increase their following can serve the celebrities’ fans and bank accounts. As Social Times reported in February, brands may be doling out as much as $10,000 to place their ads on a celebrity’s Twitter stream. The more followers, the more the brands are likely to pay.
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Social Gaming Summit 2010: Building Social Games For Your Platform

MyYearbook Logo

MyYearbook LogoJeff Cook, founder of MyYearBook, showcased MyYearBook as an up and coming social network and a place to meet new people. Founded 5 yrs ago, the social platform has grown to 80 employees and generating roughly $20 million revenue a year. Standing in stark contrast to Facebook where users are bound by their real social graph, MyYearBook will focus on content discovery, user compatibility, dynamic stream interactions and opening its doors for social games. Will it prevail?
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myYearbook Forgoes Freemium, Reports Virtual Goods Success

Freemium was once the law of the land, but in the past year we’ve seen major moves towards infrastructure development to support virtual goods and other alternative streams of revenue. Sevral social networks have turned to virtual goods, including Facebook, hi5, and myYearbook. But we haven’t heard much in th way of the success or failure rate of recent initiatives.

This week, myYearbook released some metrics regarding its own successful implementation of virtual goods and other forms of alternative revenue-generation. Between its new subscription-based VIP Club, virtual goods and a CPA platform that ties in with its virtual currency program, myYearbook is reporting an increase in revenue of 120% from 2008 to this year, keeping myYearbook in the black.
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Meebo Teams with myYearbook to Expand IM

Meebo’s latest partnership is with myYearbook, the social networking site started by teenagers for fellow high schoolers. The partnership includes myYearbook using Meebo chat as a prominent feature on every page of its site, providing chat tools for Meebo users and guests alike.

The partnership should be a win-win for both Meebo and myYearbook, as instant messaging is a highly requested feature from myYearbook users. myYearbook is one of the largest networks dedicated to the high school age demographic. This specific user base is also quite active when it comes to online activity, making it a good fit for Meebo’s chat and media-sharing tools.
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MyYearbook Raises $13 Million More

Back in June I wrote about MyYearbook’s phenomenal yearly growth which outstripped Facebook as the fastest growing social network. Last night the company announced that they had raised an additional $13 million from Norwest Venture Partners. The company currently attracts high school student to their website and continues to grow at a furious pace.

As Eric Eldon at VentureBeat points out, the company continues to dominate other competing social networks domestically including hi5, Bebo, Tagged, Meebo and Friendster. This positions the company as a distant third to Facebook and MySapce. Domestically, MyYearbook attracts around 10 million visitors a month while Facebook attracts over 35 million and MySpace has close to 70 million.

As the company grows, the largest challenge will be expanding beyond their initial user base which is comprised of mostly teens. Given the name and the design of the popular social network, it will be hard for the company to grow to a more mature audience. For now, it appears that the company will use the funding to expand their product offering and expand their marketing efforts.

As Caroline McCarthy pointed out, the announcement was relatively ambiguous with releasing any of the company’s intentions. It will be interesting to see how the site changes over the coming year among continued growth.

Can MyYearbook Take on Facebook?

As if there weren’t already enough social networks, MyYearbook has been showing spectacular growth, growing over 384 percent year-over-year according to the most recent Hitwise data. MyYearbook targets high school students. Next we’ll be hearing about the elementary school social network experiencing spectacular growth.

Eric Eldon has posted the rumor that MyYearbook is working on raising a large round of capital. This wouldn’t be surprising given there growth over the past year. They still have a long way to go, commanding less than 1.5 percent of the social network market currently. It’s a great start though and at this pace, the company may be able to secure a fairly sizable chunk of the market.

While I’m not sure if college students will continue logging in once they graduate, the company will at least have a large piece of the high school market. Then again Facebook and MySpace have both done a great job on that portion of the market. Apparently there’s still space for one more though.