The Dohring Company
Dohring formed The Dohring Company in 1986, where he served as Chairman and CEO, with his wife originally 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, as well as automotive, financial services, and health care companies. 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 Los Angeles 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 BusinessWeek, Dohring bought the site immediately thereafter, and in April, 2000, he brought in his first paying customers for a concept that he trademarked as 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”.
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. In January 2017, Age of Learning expanded the ABCmouse curriculum through 2nd grade.
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 individual teachers, libraries, Head Start programs, and other community organizations. Dohring assembed an education advisory board that collaborates on the design of the ABCmouse curriculum and includes Kimberly Oliver Burnim, National Teacher of the Year in 2006, and Kevin O’Donnell, creator of PBS series, “Liberty’s Kids”.
In 2016, Age of Learning launched ABCmouse for Schools, a solution aimed at school districts and groups rather than families or individual teachers. ABCmouse for Schools includes student management, professional development, curriculum alignment, and progress reporting tools in addition to the core ABCmouse curriculum.
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." The $50 million deal included $3 million in cash and $47 million in ShopNow stock, (later renamed as "Network Commerce", and deemed worthless in 2001).
A California native, Dohring is the youngest son of a car dealer and a homemaker. He and his wife Laurie, both Scientologists, have been married 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.
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- Login | labusinessjournal.com
- Advertising Age
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