Taatu announced today that it had closed a €1.9 million (about $2.64 million) round of funding led by the Belgian-based BAMS Angels Fund with participation from international professionals in association with the original investors Genesis Technology, Madian and SF Investments. The virtual world for teens and young adults began in Belgium and last year branched out to an English-language version. Taatu has found some of its biggest success creating and operating StarAc’ World, an extension of the American Idol-style, French-music competition Star Academy. The virtual world for Star Academy launched in 2007 and has been picked up for 2008′s season as well.
This year Taatu also launched "Plus belle la life," a virtual world extension to the French soap opera "Plus belle la vie," working with Telfrance Series and France 3. The show, which recently broadcast its 1000th episode after 4 years, garners an audience of about 6-7 million.
"The producer wanted to set up a new way to continue the series and bring it to life in the virtual world. We’ve got a pretty good anchor on the television with France 3, and it’s been very successful," Philippe Moitroux, CEO of Taatu, told me. "It’s a three-year project, and we are now 2.5 months into the concept with a minimum of 2 years planned."
Taatu says that it has achieved triple-digit annual growth since its launch and is approaching one million members. With its recent expansion to the English language, Taatu is looking to bring in brands from those new markets.
"We are in deep conversations with different producers and TV executives from the UK and other countries," said Moitroux. "That’s definitely a focus. The English-speaking world is the next phase, and we’ll have some highly visible projects."
The new funding will go towards developing Taatu, both for similar
advertising and for its consumer-targeted virtual goods model.
"The particular focus is on the virtual world extension of our major projects so we can specialize working with producers, broadcasters, and movies using our platform, which we believe is the best platform in the world for these multimedia experiences," Moitroux explained. "It’s Web-based and open to the masses, and we are fully multimedia enabled to do live, recorded, and synchronized performances. We deliver the full solution to partners who are bringing in brands and content."
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