Virtual Worlds Management, a company that provides research on the growth of online virtual worlds, said $594 million was invested in 63 virtual worlds during 2008. Gaia Online and PlayFish were two of the most prominent recipients of venture funding during the year. That said, investments in virtual worlds declined as the year wore on. In the first quarter of 2008, virtual worlds received $184 million in funding. By the fourth quarter of that year, investments dropped to $101 million. Virtual Worlds Management expects a further decline in funding in virtual worlds during 2009.
Fuzz.com, a social-networking site for musicians and music lovers, announced Wednesday that it's being forced to shut down, effective February 13. According to a blog post the company's founder placed on its site, Fuzz will close because of "increasing operating costs and flat revenue." On February 13, none of the site's accounts or content will be accessible.
Community presentation provider SlideShare has announced that its users can now embed YouTube videos into their Flash-based presentations. According to the company, its old policy of forcing users to include links to outside videos simply wasn't working, so allowing them to embed YouTube videos seemed appropriate. Although its software now works with YouTube, no other video services are supported.
Online video applications, platforms, advertising networks, and related services incurred $494.7 million in revenue in 2008, said AccuStream Media Research. That amount is nearly 87 percent greater than 2007 revenue figures. Even better for the online video market, the research firm believes video revenue will increase by 41 percent in 2009 and 38 percent in 2010. The amounts were based on reported revenue figures from video overlay applications, advertising platforms, CMS platforms, and other video-related services.
HomeAway, an online vacation rental marketplace, announced that it redesigned its hallmark site, VacationRentals.com, Wednesday. According to the company, the revamped page features enhanced property details and an interactive photo flip book to get a better view of prospective locations. To celebrate the launch, the site is offering a "Family Fun Giveaway" for vacationers who wish to book a trip to Florida. Through February 26, travelers will be automatically entered to win 80 prizes from the site, which range from $75 gas cards to a family four-pack of passes to Disney World and Kennedy Space Center.