Doug Dohring

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Doug Dohring, Age of Learning Founder & Chairman, speaking at the Education World Forum in 2020
Doug Dohring, Age of Learning Founder and Chairman, at company headquarters

Doug Dohring (1957 - September 14, 2023) was the founder, CEO, and Executive Chairman of Age of Learning, Inc.,[1] the edtech company that created and runs Early Learning Academy, ReadingIQ, Adventure Academy, and My Math Academy and My Reading Academy for schools and districts.[2][3][4][5][6] Age of Learning was named “Most Innovative Ed Tech Company” by SIIA in the 2023 CODiE Awards.[7] Dohring was also the Chairman of the philanthropic Age of Learning Foundation, a member of the UNESCO Global Education Coalition. Prior to Age of Learning, Dohring was the first CEO of Neopets, Inc.. Doug Dohring died on September 14, 2023.[8][9]

The Dohring Company[edit]

Dohring founded market research firm The Dohring Company in 1986, where he served as Chairman and CEO.[10] Customers for the company's market research services included retail chains including Baskin-Robbins and House of Fabrics, and entertainment firms including Capitol Records, as well as automotive, financial services, and health care companies.[11] 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 Los Angeles Business Journal's 1995 list of fastest growing private companies in Los Angeles County.[12]


Dohring founded Neopets, Inc. after being introduced to the site by a mutual friend upon its December, 1999 launch by two British college students, Adam Powell and Donna Williams. According to BusinessWeek, Dohring bought the site immediately thereafter.[13] In April, 2000, he brought in his first advertising partners for a concept that he trademarked as immersive advertising.[14][15]

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".[16]

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 websites 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.[17]

Dohring sold the Neopets site to Viacom's MTV Network in June 2005 for $160 million.[18] At the time, approximately 140 million Neopets had been created, with advertising making up about 60% of the company's revenues and a line of plush toys sold through Target Corporation and other stores.[19][20]

Age of Learning, Inc. and[edit]

After the sale of Neopets to Viacom in 2005, Dohring founded Age of Learning, Inc., in 2007, and launched the Early Learning Academy, website in 2010. The Wall Street Journal said that ABCmouse was "designed to teach basic reading, math, science and other subjects to children between the ages of two and six."[21] Unlike Neopets, which relied on advertising, charges a subscription of $12.99 per month or $59.99 per year, and is free to individual teachers, libraries, Head Start programs, and other community organizations.[22]

In 2016, Age of Learning launched ABCmouse for Schools, a service marketed to school districts and groups rather than families or individual teachers.[23][24]

Age of Learning, a privately held company, was reported to have reached a $1 billion valuation based on $150 million in funding from ICONIQ Capital in May 2016.[25][26] A subsequent round of funding in June, 2021, led by TPG, raised another $300 million, which valued the company at $3 billion.[27][28]

In September 2019, the company appointed former Disney executive Paul Candland as CEO with Dohring being named the Executive Chairman.[29] Candland served as CEO until April, 2022, at which time Dohring resumed his position as CEO.[citation needed]

In January 2020, Dohring announced the formation of the Age of Learning Foundation, which offers free access to Age of Learning digital education programs, at the Education World Forum.[30][31]

Other business ventures[edit]

Dohring was also a principal shareholder in circa 1999-2001, which according to a December 2005 Wired Magazine article, "he later sold for $50 million."[13] The $50 million deal included $3 million in cash and $47 million in ShopNow stock,[32] (later renamed as "Network Commerce",[33] and deemed worthless in 2001).[33]

Personal life[edit]

A California native, Dohring was the youngest son of a car dealer and a homemaker. He and his wife Laurie, both Scientologists, were married in 1979. They had five children including two sets of identical twins and actor Jason Dohring, best known for his roles in the series Veronica Mars and Moonlight.[12][13]

Doug Dohring died on September 14, 2023, due to an illness diagnosed four months prior.[8][9]


  1. ^ "Doug Dohring | About Age of Learning Executive Chairman Doug Dohring". Retrieved December 17, 2022.
  2. ^ " Will Teach Your 2-to-6-Year-Old Their ABCs (And 'Thank You' & 'Please!')". Hollywood Life. November 16, 2010. Archived from the original on May 11, 2014. Retrieved February 26, 2013.
  3. ^ "ABCmouse Launches New Reading App" Tech & Learning. Retrieved 2019-07-12.
  4. ^ "Adventure Academy Is An Educational MMO Teachers And Students Will Love" GameInformer. Retrieved 2019-07-12.
  5. ^ "Age of Learning Enters Schools Business—Launches Personalized, Adaptive Early Learning Math Program, My Math Academy". Business Wire. June 3, 2021. Archived from the original on June 27, 2021. Retrieved June 16, 2021.
  6. ^ Kuykendall, Kristal (January 31, 2022). "Age of Learning Expands School Solutions with New My Reading Academy -". THE Journal. Retrieved December 17, 2022.
  7. ^ Staff, eSchool News (June 26, 2023). "SIIA Announces 2023 CODiE Award Winners for Education Technology". eSchool News. Retrieved August 17, 2023.
  8. ^ a b "Doug Dohring - In Memoriam". Age of Learning. June 10, 2023. Archived from the original on February 10, 2024. Retrieved February 10, 2024.
  9. ^ a b Ortega, Tony (September 14, 2023). "Doug Dohring, 'ABC Mouse' honcho: Scientology loses another major whale". The Underground Bunker. Retrieved February 10, 2024 – via Substack.
  10. ^ "Company Overview of The Dohring Company, Inc." Bloomberg. Retrieved 2019-07-12.
  11. ^ "THE DOHRING COMPANY INC". Hoovers - A D&B Company.
  12. ^ a b Black box approach to market research - The Dohring Co Archived 2007-10-16 at the Wayback Machine, Los Angeles Business Journal, Dec. 25, 1995
  13. ^ a b c The Neopets Addiction, WIRED, December 2005
  14. ^ Weingarten, Marc (February 21, 2002). "As Children Adopt Pets, A Game Adopts Them". The New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2010.
  15. ^ Hoechsmann, Michael. Media Literacies: A Critical Introduction. Wiley.
  16. ^ "NeoPets, Inc." Harvard Business School. Retrieved 2019-07-12.
  17. ^ Bowman, Lisa M. (February 26, 2002). "Who let the NeoPets out?". CNET. Archived from the original on July 15, 2014.
  18. ^ Flint, Joe (June 20, 2005). "Viacom to Acquire Web Company Neopets". Wall Street Journal. Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  19. ^ "Viacom's MTV buys Neopets for $160m". The Boston Globe. June 21, 2005.
  20. ^ (June 20, 2005) "Viacom to Acquire Web Company Neopets" The Wall Street Journal.
  21. ^ "From Neopets to Teachers' Pets". The Wall Street Journal. November 15, 2010.
  22. ^ "From Mouse to Unicorn: Age of Learning Raises $150M at $1B Valuation, Eyes Expansion Into Schools" EdSurge. Retrieved 2019-07-19.
  23. ^ "ABCmouse launches school-centered platform for K-2". eSchool News. July 11, 2016. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  24. ^ "Age of Learning Debuts Elementary School Resources -- THE Journal". THE Journal. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  25. ^ Lunden, Ingrid (May 3, 2016). "Age of Learning, a quiet giant in education apps, raised $150M at a $1B valuation from Iconiq". TechCrunch. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  26. ^ "From Mouse to Unicorn: Age of Learning Raises $150M at $1B Valuation, Eyes Expansion Into Schools (EdSurge News)". EdSurge. Retrieved January 12, 2017.
  27. ^ "ABCmouse Creator Valued at $3 Billion With TPG-Led Funding Round". June 29, 2021. Retrieved December 17, 2022.
  28. ^ Maio, Pat (July 4, 2021). "Age of Learning Raises $300 Million to Expand Globally". Los Angeles Business Journal. Retrieved December 17, 2022.
  29. ^ "Age of Learning appoints former Disney exec Paul Candland as CEO" Venture Beat. Retrieved 2019-09-10.
  30. ^ "Age of Learning Launches the Age of Learning Foundation, a Charitable Organization Providing Effective Digital Education Programs Globally to Help Children Furthest from Opportunity Build a Strong Foundation for Academic Success". (Press release). January 21, 2020. Retrieved June 16, 2021.
  31. ^ "Doug Dohring - Speakers". Education World Forum. Retrieved June 16, 2021.
  32. ^ "ShopNow buys SpeedyClick for $50M". Puget Sound Business Journal. American City Business Journals. November 11, 1999. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  33. ^ a b Broberg, Brad (September 30, 2001). "Companies claim there's life after delisting".

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