Forbes has the scoop on Sean Ryan’s new venture, Meez, unveiled in the news today.
What is it? Meez enables a user to create a caricature of themself, then use the image of their digital self on chat boards and instant-messaging sessions.
How does it work? Meez is entirely browser-based, with no need to download additional client software. Just go online to Meez.com, and point and click your choice for gender, select a skin tone, add some hair, and add outfits and accessories.
I took it for a spin and the service was easy to use, although Meez caused my PC to freeze several times – and alas, my selected eyewear shows on the floor instead of on my face. Ah, the charm of Beta. This image is Meez’s digital representation of me.
According to Forbes, Meez plans to make money by offering users the chance to let their digital characters wear licensed brands, like Major League Baseball and National Hockey League jerseys, and premium clothing designs for a fee. Pricing should be in the $1.50 to $2.50 range, similar to ringtones.
Will people use a service like Meez? As Forbes notes, some 68 million people use instant-messaging services and 60% of teenage instant-messenger users download free icons to represent themselves when they chat. How many people pay will pay for virtual clothing with premium features? Quite frankly, I think most users will not upsell to the paid options. But I also expect that the economics of the business are such that it doesn’t take a large number of people to purchase to cover fixed costs.
Acording to Forbes, Ryan has raised more than $4.3 million in venture funding from Battery Ventures, Transcosmos Partners, Allen & Co. and other individual investors.
Ryan was previously CEO of Listen.com, where he developed the Rhapsody music service. After RealNetworks purchased Listen.com, we were co-workers for a short time. Sean cares a great deal about the consumer experience, and I expect he’ll iterate from the current early beta experience to something really great.