From Neopets to Teachers' Pets

Doug Dohring made a bundle selling a Website called Neopets that let young kids earn make-believe money by playing online games. Now he plans to reward them for studying math and reading.

Dohring’s new venture, Age of Learning Inc., plans to launch a Web site called Early Learning Academy designed to teach basic reading, math, science and other subjects to children between the ages of two and six. In some ways, the site is a big departure from Neopets, which Dohring sold to Viacom Inc. in 2005 for $160 million.

For starters, he says there won’t be any advertisements on, which will instead charge parents $7.95 a month or $79.95 for a year (the site will be free to public schools in the U.S. and Canada that apply, he says). Some parents and children’s advocacy groups have criticized Neopets in the past for immersing them in ads for McDonald’s Happy Meals, cereals and other things.

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