In virtual worlds/virtual chat, its rivals include Meez and Gaia Online. About 69 percent are female, largely because of the fashion-oriented nature of the site. That includes expansion into non-English speaking geographies.The fashion-based game being developed by Nurien Software is also a likely competitor, when Nurien launches its highly realistic fashion game world in 2010. The company could also move into mobile platforms and the Mac.If developers want to cash out, they can do so through a free market economy that allows them to sell credits directly to third-party registered credit brokers, who buy and sell credits on third-party websites.After they sell credits, these brokers transfer the credits to the buyer on IMVU, where IMVU takes a small processing fee in the form of credits.
They can then purchase the clothing with virtual currency by clicking on a “buy it” button.But IMVU’s virtual spaces are limited to rooms or scenes (like the beach or an estate), and its content is user-generated.That means that IMVU doesn’t have to buy or lease a lot of new servers or hire a lot of artists as it adds more users or catalog items.For the past three months, the company has been profitable, Rosenzweig said.If the company keeps up its momentum, it will have a shot at generating the kind of highly profitable larger business that publicly traded chat/virtual world companies in China have seen.