FUHU, a startup that produces virtual avatars and identity cards and rich media web widgets, has secured $6.25 million in Series B funding from The Acer Group (which produces Acer, Gateway, eMachines and Packard Bell computers). FUHU also signed a 10 year contract to distribute FUHU products in all Acer computers and smart mobile phones. FUHU raised $1.5 million in Series A funding in February 2008 from John Hui (co-founder of eMachines), VIA Technologies, UMC Capital, Industrial Bank of Taiwan, Alorica, and several angel investors.
FUHU’s urFooz product, an embeddable virtual identity card, allows users to create an avatar and portable profile that contains music, photos, feeds, and videos. The widget then lets users syndicate their profile on social networks (MySpace, Facebook etc.). Through the deal, FUHU will collect computer users’ information with out-of-the-box registration for Acer computers. Users will be given the option to create a urFooz avatar and account upon registration. Here’s one for Britney Spears:
Filling out a profile is similar to filling out a profile on a social network—you are asked for the essential information you would share with a friend, including hometown, employers, relationship status, and education. You can link your profile/avatar to your accounts from Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, FriendFeed, blogs and more. You can also dress your avatar in designer clothes through purchases at urFooz’s virtual mall. And you can embed your urFooz card on any social network, blog or site. The card is dynamically updated on these sites when you update your profile. Currently urFooz has about 20,00 users but CEO Jim Mitchell says that the startup could add 1 to 2 million users a month through the integration of urFooz with Acer computer registration. Whether users will actually feel compelled to keep using the profile is another question. The idea of an embeddable avatar is interesting but you can also share photos, videos, and music within your social networks without the help of a widget,
Another FUHU widget that will be integrated with Acer computers is the Spinlets widget, which is a rich media widgets that let users place favorite music, videos, links, pictures, MP3s, ring-tones, news and more on social networks, sites and blogs. Currently, the Spinlets site only lets you embed music widgets on sites but the video, pictures and additional functionality will be coming soon. FUHU says there will be some sort of pre-loaded mashup of the Spinlets widget already downloaded on the computers but would not reveal more details about what this will look like.
One of the advantages for Acer in this deal is that the company will have access to data and information about users who set up a urFooz profile, including hobbies, activities, interests, says Mitchell. Acer is also planning to integrate FUHU’s widgets into its smart phones, which are already out in Asia. Acer plans to unveil its smart phones in the U.S. in 2010. Competitors in the rich media widget space include Slide and RockYou.