Online Interaction Company Invests In Innovative Web Service
April 20, 2005 - San Mateo, Calif. - Makena Technologies, a new entertainment and communications company focused on online interaction, announced today the acquisition of the groundbreaking consumer online service, There (http://www.there.com), the first online getaway where members can meet new people, hang out with their friends, play, have fun, and help build their 3D world.
Makena Technologies acquired the exclusive license of There and the management of the There community from Forterra Systems, the leading provider of 3D virtual world technology. Forterra Systems was formed in 1998 as There, changing its name to Forterra in 2004 to reflect its expanding focus on virtual world technologies for consumer, business and government services.
Since its launch in October 2003, hundreds of thousands of consumers have tried There and made it the destination of choice for anyone who wants to combine the power of chat with the fun of online games.
"The internet will continue to morph into a more interactive, multi-media experience," said Michael Wilson, CEO of Makena Technologies. "There's platform is well suited for this transition because of its deep and sustained interactive experience. We are excited to combine the There platform with our vision for online interaction at such an exciting time in the Internet's development."
Wilson, who was the first Senior Vice President of Product Development and Site Operations of eBay and was instrumental in building eBay's thriving trading community, said the company's investment will enable further development of There's platform.
"The core components of the There platform, such as the avatar and art direction, are critical for a deep and sustained interactive experience," Wilson said. "There's avatar is expressive, natural and includes so many little details - like the breathing or the subtle body positioning - that users respond emotionally and passionately to being in that virtual world with other people. The art direction has created an environment that is so graphically rich it absolutely creates a sense of place. All of the little things that There has done so incredibly well clearly indicate that There is the leading platform in this space."
Wilson has been involved with There and Forterra for more than 4 years. He served in a number of engineering and community management roles in the company and continues to serve on Forterra's Board of Directors.
Wilson will be joined by former There and Forterra executive Steve Victorino, who will serve as President and COO of the new company. Victorino has over 20 years of experience building software and new media companies, including Four11, an Internet service start-up known for its free e-mail service Rocketmail and its people directory Four11, both acquired by Yahoo in 1997. Over the past year, Steve has served as both There's interim CEO and, after its transition to Forterra, its President and COO.
"The community is the heart of There, and There is very lucky to have had such a close relationship with its users," Victorino said. "We are committed to continuing to work together with There members on taking There to new and greater levels.
Robert Gehorsam, CEO of Forterra Systems, said, "Having worked closely with Mike and Steve over the past three years, I know that There is no better team to build There into a world-class service. We at Forterra will continue to maintain close ties with Makena to leverage the synergies in our respective businesses."