This week boomer social network TeeBeeDee's CEO, Robin Wolaner, announced that the site would go offline and out of business by July 13. This announcement comes only a month after the site announced that it would begin selling virtual gifts to users. Despite raising $9 million in venture capital from Shasta Ventures and Monitor Ventures through multiple rounds, Wolaner stated that TeeBeeDee "lacked the resources to continue developing the product to meet the needs of our community."
TeeBeeDee's apparent failure is surprising. The company launched with a high-profile team of executives including Shelby Bonnie, founder of CNET, and former AOL CMO Jan Brandt. Wolaner herself was the founder of Parenting magazine and a former CNET vice president. Despite the company's high pedigree, Compete.com reported that the site drew only 70,000 unique visitors in the past month.
While some social networks like Scrapblog and Dogster have monetized well off of niche userbases with targeted advertising and virtual gifts, the forces behind TeeBeeDee clearly decided that its traffic simply wasn't good enough. Instead of moving to the demographically-oriented TeeBeeDee, boomers primarily continued to sign up for more general-purpose social networks like Facebook (possibly so they can connect more easily with children, grandchildren, or other non-boomer relatives).
In retrospect it appears that TeeBeeDee's launch of its virtual gifts line, Goodies, may have been a last-ditch attempt to get the site to generate revenue and prevent a closure. Last month, the company hoped to make roughly $1 per active member per month through virtual gifts sales. Even if the company was achieving that goal, simple math suggests it was making less than $70,000 per month off of its virtual goods sales– probably not enough to meet TeeBeeDee's basic needs, let alone achieve profitability.
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