Club Penguin Co-Founder Lane Merrifield Signs Off After Five Years at Disney

Lane Merrifield, the co-founder of Club Penguin, the very successful virtual world for kids, has decided to step down five years after the company was acquired by Disney.

Lane Merrifield

In a note sent to employees earlier this morning, Merrifield wrote: “Our team has grown Club Penguin from a simple idea to being the largest global virtual world for kids for seven straight years while maintaining a significant profit margin. I am incredibly proud to have been a part of Club Penguin, and I know that it will continue to grow and thrive.”

A spokesperson confirmed the departure of Merrifield, who has been filling the role of EVP of Disney Online Studios more recently. His departure is effective immediately, but he expects to help out until the transition is complete on Feb. 1.

Merrifield will be joining FreshGrade, a start-up he founded over the past year. FreshGrade is a cloud-based educational assessment tool teachers can use to figure out how a student learns.

As a co-founder of Club Penguin, Merrifield started the virtual world seven years ago, selling to Disney in 2007 for as much as $700 million. Club Penguin says nearly 200 million accounts have been created to date and  that one million kids log-in daily.

Here’s Merrifield’s letter to employees:

To my friends at Disney:

Five years ago our little company joined Disney and I had no idea then what an amazing adventure it would turn out to be. Since that time, I have had the privilege of working alongside and learning from so many of you and the joy of creating great products together. I appreciate the opportunity and the faith this company placed in me and the ways it has allowed me to grow both as a leader and as a person. I am also grateful for the countless memories this company has created for me and my family. Our team has grown Club Penguin from a simple idea to being the largest global virtual world for kids for seven straight years while maintaining a significant profit margin. I am incredibly proud to have been a part of Club Penguin, and I know that it will continue to grow and thrive.

Like many entrepreneurs though, there comes a time when the desire to create something new outweighs the comfort of what’s known and for me that time has come.

Over the past year, I’ve invested in a new educational startup called FreshGrade that focuses on creating mobile cloud-based assessment software for teachers and students and it has reached a place where more of my time is needed. We started Club Penguin in order to enhance our children’s online experience and now I hope to do the same with their educational experience.

Thank you for the role you’ve played in my journey and I truly hope that even though my business card may change, my friendship with so many of you will not.

With gratitude,
Lane


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