The Dohring Company
Dohring formed The Dohring Company in 1986, with his wife serving as president. Customers for the company's market research services have included retail chains including Baskin-Robbins and House of Fabrics, and entertainment firms including Capitol Records. However, automotive surveys comprised up to 80% of the firm's business in 1995. At that time, the company was ranked 55th on the Advertising Age list of the nation's largest market research firms. It was 92nd on the Business Journal 's 1995 List of fastest growing private companies in Los Angeles County.
Dohring formed Neopets, Inc. after being introduced to the Neopets.com site by a mutual friend upon its December, 1999 launch by two British college students, Adam Powell and Donna Williams. According to Business Week, Dohring bought the site immediately thereafter, and in April, 2000, he brought in his first paying customers for a concept that he called immersive advertising.
According to a Harvard Business School case study, Neopets, Inc. had reached profitability four months after launching operations, "largely due to the fact that it spends nothing for customer acquisition, relying strictly on word-of-mouth," and as of July 2001, the site was ranked #4 in "stickiness".
Two years after its creation, in December 2001, Neopets had attracted more than 20 million accounts, more than 80% of them under the age of 17. While the "tech bubble" was bursting and large percentages of new web sites were folding, Neopets was signing up 50,000 new accounts per day, with members spending an average of four hours or more per month on the site. Business Week cited Neopets as “one of the top three entertainment sites on the Web, according to Jupiter Media Metrix”.
Advertising Age listed Dohring and Neopets in their 2001 “Roster of Marketing 100s”, noting that in July 2001 the site was ranked the “stickiest” at-home web site by Nielsen/Net Ratings.
By 2002 Neopets had 24 million accounts, and people spending more time on the site than at major services such as America Online. It was cited by Stacey Herron at Jupiter Media Metrix as “one of the most usage-intensive sites on the Web.”
Dohring sold the Neopets site to Viacom's MTV Network in June 2005 for $160 million. At the time, approximately 140 million Neopets had been created, and Neopets ranked among the top 10 stickiest Web sites, with advertising making up about 60% of the company's revenues and a line of plush toys sold through Target Corporation and other stores.
Age of Learning, Inc. and ABCmouse.com
After the sale of Neopets to Viacom in 2005, Dohring founded Age of Learning, Inc., and launched ABCMouse.com Early Learning Academy, “designed to teach basic reading, math, science and other subjects to children between the ages of two and six,” according to The Wall Street Journal. Unlike Neopets, which relied on advertising, ABCmouse.com charges a monthly fee of $7.95 per month or $79.95 per year, and is free to public school teachers. Dohring assembed an education advisory board that collaborates on the design of the ABCmouse curriculum and includes Kimberly Oliver Burnim, United States Teacher of the Year in 2006, and Kevin O’Donnell, creator of PBS series, “Liberty’s Kids”.
Other Business Ventures
Dohring was also a principal shareholder in Speedyclick.com circa 1999-2001, which according to a December 2005 Wired Magazine article, "he later sold for $50 million." ($3 million in cash and $47 million in ShopNow stock , later renamed as "Network Commerce", deemed worthless in 2001.)
A California native, Dohring is the youngest son of a car dealer and a homemaker. He has been married to Laurie Dohring since 1979. They have five children including two sets of identical twins and actor Jason Dohring, best known for his roles in the series Veronica Mars and Moonlight.
- "ABCmouse.com Will Teach Your 2-to-6-Year-Old Their ABCs (And 'Thank You' & 'Please!')". Hollywood Life. November 16, 2010.
- Black box approach to market research - The Dohring Co, Los Angeles Business Journal, Dec. 25, 1995
- BW Online | December 12, 2001|Real Profits from an Imaginary World
- Thomas R. Eisenmann, Liz Kind (May 12, 2003). "Neopets, Inc.". Harvard Business Publishing.
- Login | labusinessjournal.com
- Advertising Age
- Weingarten, Marc (February 21, 2002). "As Children Adopt Pets, A Game Adopts Them". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
- Who let the NeoPets out? | CNET News.com
- "Viacom's MTV buys Neopets for $160m". The Boston Globe. June 21, 2005.
- "Viacom to Acquire Web Company Neopets". The Wall Street Journal. June 20, 2005.
- "From Neopets to Teachers' Pets". The Wall Street Journal. November 15, 2010.
- The Neopets Addiction, WIRED, December 2005
- Broberg, Brad (September 30, 2001). "Companies claim there's life after delisting".