REDWOOD CITY, Calif., May 9, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- IMVU, the leading avatar-based social network today announces that it expanded its executive team by hiring Daren Tsui as the chief executive officer (CEO), Lauren Bigelow as the chief product officer, Victor Zaud as the senior vice president of marketing, John Burris as the chief development officer, and Lomit Patel as the vice president of growth. The strengthened executive team will help accelerate product innovation, support continued mobile growth, and continue to build the world's largest avatar-based social network.
Recent studies have shown that loneliness is on the rise and the lack of strong social connection is now considered a determinant of overall health and wellness. IMVU envisions a world of deepening friendships through highly connective virtual shared experiences. Instead of posting past each other on Facebook or Instagram, IMVU user interactions are hyperpersonal - the experience is similar to the fidelity of face-to-face interaction, but at a heightened level, which enables users to find a meaningful connection like in the real world.
That social aspect of the online experience is exactly the focus of IMVU. As CEO Daren Tsui explains, "Virtual worlds will be the next generation social platform connecting people in a way that exceeds both face-to-face connection and the curated feeds of Facebook and Instagram. At IMVU, we are spreading the power of friendships through our product's experience to address the rising rates of loneliness in all generations."
People love to interact with others in digital spaces, according to virtual reality and digital human expert Jeremy Bailenson, founder of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University. On IMVU, your avatar, customized to your preferences, represents you. Through gestures, movement, and interactions with others, IMVU avatars create a greater sensation of social presence - the feeling of being with someone else in a digital environment. Compared to real life, an avatar allows a greater ability to optimize how you present yourself in a social setting, which often makes an avatar a better communicator than you in the real world.
"I vividly recall my first time sitting on a virtual sofa interacting with another avatar. In addition to chatting, I was able to experience nonverbal cues such as gestures, proximity, and expressions. It felt so real that I unconsciously began projecting myself onto my avatar feeling the psychological exhilaration as if in real-life. When I high-five someone in IMVU, I feel it," says Tsui of his earliest IMVU experiences.
At the helm of IMVU's social experience is Lauren Bigelow, chief of product. Bigelow, who recently joined IMVU from a neuroscience startup, thinks people who describe IMVU as a mere role-playing game are missing the point. "In a game, someone else creates the character story but in IMVU, you create your own story," Bigelow says. "In 2018 we are still just at the beginning of people socializing online, which makes it an exciting time to be part of the evolution of IMVU. Today, we are studying ways to help people meet new friends and deepen their relationships. The essence of this work supports users making emotional connections and providing shared experiences that help them bond." IMVU currently has 4 million monthly active users (MAU) and is experiencing huge year over year growth on mobile - 91% on iOS and 62% on Android.
Today, 80% of social media consumption takes place on a mobile device or smartphone app, as reported by ComScore. With this growing market and IMVU's technology in 3D rendering on mobile devices, IMVU saw a huge opportunity in mobile expansion as users are able to keep up with their IMVU friends in the same 3D immersive fashion they enjoy on web and desktop. Led by Lomit Patel, IMVU's recent jump in year over year mobile growth, earned the company spots in the top 10 social media network apps, and top 3 grossing social networking apps. Additionally, Patel earned the Mobile Hero Award by Liftoff, which gives recognition for best practices in mobile app marketing.
Beyond the innovative platform, the IMVU economy is a powerful engine fueled by the creativity of more than 50,000 Creators contributing to the massive catalog of virtual goods with over 40 million items and counting. These items are purchased by users in order to customize their IMVU avatars and experience with highly immersive, intricate, and diverse chat rooms that invite users to meet and facilitate social connections.
"We really look to our Creators' success as a mark of the platform's success," says Victor Zaud, senior vice president of marketing at IMVU. "Our Creators are incredibly creative, so we try hard to focus on empowering them further through content programs that reward their content creation."
With over 15 million transactions per month in the IMVU economy, Creators have lucrative opportunities to not only create products that earn real money, but also craft new experiences that facilitate relationships, friendships, and bonding on the platform.
The future of social shines brighter in IMVU, where people are joining to connect in a way as close to real life as possible. It doesn't take a thousand dollars worth of VR gear to find it. As anyone who has ever joined IMVU knows, all it takes is four bars, some good friends, and a place to post up and create shared experiences that deepen relationships.
IMVU is a global 3D avatar-based social community of millions of users who come together to celebrate the joy of shared experiences. Far beyond traditional social media, IMVU users create a whole new experience at the intersection of digital connection and face to face relationships. Instead of posting past each other on Facebook or Instagram, IMVU user interactions are hyperpersonal - experiencing the fidelity of face-to-face interaction at a heightened level and finding a meaningful connection like in the real world.
IMVU is where the real world comes to play. Today IMVU users enjoy the freedom to live the life they create through customizing highly-stylized avatars, connecting with friends in immersive chat rooms, shopping and stylizing new looks, sharing their experiences, and starring in their own animated emoji. IMVU is a powerful and collaborative world, which also offers an opportunity to make real money using proprietary design tools to create looks and rooms to sell in the IMVU Shop.
The IMVU experience is available on the web, a desktop app, and as an iOS and Android app. In the real world, IMVU is located in Redwood City, California.
Lindsay Anne Aamodt
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