Zui.com Adds “FaceTube” as MattyB Helps March Traffic Surge Past 2M

4/24/12Follow @bvbigelow

First came the Internet browser, with a new approach to parental controls. Then came Zui.com, an Internet search engine for kids that has grown to serve more than 2 million youthful users a month in less than nine months. Today, San Diego-based Zui.com is introducing “Facetube,” a new feature of Zui.com that operates like a social network for pre-teens.

The kid-friendly Internet startup, which was founded in 2008 as KidZui, has been gaining momentum—and a much bigger audience for its pre-screened content—since the introduction of Zui.com last August. Things have been going so well, in fact, that founding CEO Cliff Boro decided in January to re-brand the Web company Zui.com.

“The growth has been higher than we projected,” says Boro, noting that Internet traffic to Zui.com exceeded more than 2 million unique visitors last month.

One key factor in that growth has been MattyB, a nine-year-old rapper whose soaring popularity (and a celebrity rap for Zui.com) has Boro predicting he will be the next Justin Bieber. Curious? MattyB’s video plug for Zui.com is here.

Boro says, “It also turns out that it’s a lot easier to get kids on the Web if their parents don’t have to download software.” He’s referring to the KidZui browser, an add-on for the Firefox Web browser that allows children to explore websites, watch videos, and play games that have been screened and approved. An additional 400,000 kids used the KidZui browser in March, says Boro, who combines website visitors and browser users for a total of more than 2.4 million users.

Zui.com’s wave of users, who Boro says are mostly 7- to 12-year-olds, has enabled the company to negotiate bigger and more lucrative advertising partnerships with companies like Nintendo and Mattel, Boro says. Zui.com’s average advertising order also is now significantly higher. Boro added eight employees since August, and Zui.com now totals 25.

“Even though we still have the KidZui browser, Zui.com has become the flagship,” Boro says. “We’re branding Zui.com with kids, so why create any more confusion? And kids don’t really want to be associated with anything that’s designated for kids.”

In a statement issued today, Zui.com says its new FaceTube feature empowers kids to socialize around desired content, specifically selected for and by kids, “steering them away from Facebook to become part of an age appropriate social sharing community.”

Zui.com says its FaceTube feature enables users to build a personalized “My Zui Page,” build their own avatar characters, and share content with their friends on Zui.com.

In the statement, Boro says people love Facebook, YouTube, and Google, but the behemoth Internet companies “are not thinking about kids when they get up in the morning.”

Like the rest of Zui.com, FaceTube enables young users to create avatars that help to protect their identity and enable them to access content in a safer environment, in which videos and other content has been pre-screened to exclude inappropriate material for children under 13.

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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