This section on Habborator should be read as an extensive article on what really happened behind our hotel scenes in 10+ years, from the perspective of a company, trying to prove a venture like Habbo is worth persuing. This introduction and the economics section are the core of that article. They present a tad different, and at least more indepth view on the facts as presented on Habbo fansites around. We have no degree in economy though. Rest of sections is addendum, general interest or was just plain fun to research even if utterly dull.
We do know the guys who invented Habbo, Aapo Kyrölä and Sampo Karjalainen. They were co-workers at 'To the Point', a Finnish IT company, where a lot of people left in 1998. They both moved on to 'Satama Interactive' (1998-1999). Their free-time project 'Mobiles Disco', in 1999, got them quite some attention. Taivas, a Finnish company that mainly helps companies to 'build' a brand, invited them to work at their subdivision 'Ego Taivas MediaLab Oy'. There they developed their Snowstorm alike game 'Lumisota'. A commercial test, and released as part of 'Radiolinja' services (text message to get more power). Radiolinja was a GSM operator, at that time already mostly merged with Elisa Oyj, now fully part of it. No huge succes.
But Elisa was still interested, and Ego Medialab planned Hotelli Kultakala for them. At the same time, Taivas itself was and is no 'production' company. They invest, assist, set down strategies and create images/brands. So a new company was created, 'Sulake Labs Oy', May 2000 (Sulake being the Finnish word for 'fuse', which they named the framework their creations used). Ten employees, next to Aapo Kyrölä and Sampo Karjalainen, some old-collegues from 'To the point' joined in. Among them Sulka Haro, who had been working at 'Grey Interactive' after leaving 'To the point'; with him came some people from 'Grey Interactive' to Sulake.¹ People developing and creating, as the administration was handled by Taivas still. Owned by Aapo Kyrölä, Sampo Karjalainen, Taivas and Elisa, also other personnel seemed to have shares. Hotelli Kultakala launched on Kolumbus' (Elisa's GSM brand) portal page in August 2000.
It got some exposure worldwide, then things went fast. British entrepeneur Dee Edwards expressed interest in a British version. A new - Finnish - company called 'Electric Mother Ventures Oy' was founded, owned by Aapo Kyrölä, Sampo Karjalainen, Taivas and Elisa.² It had two subcompanies, one being Sulake Labs. The other being 'Habbo Limited' in London, operating English hotel and internationalizing the 'Goldfish' concept. Dee Edwards was appointed managing director and also was shareholder. January 2001 UK hotel beta-launched.
As far as we can tell, somewhere in 2003 Dee Edwards sold her shares in Habbo Limited (to Sulake), and is now in travel business. Habbogroup.com, company website redirected to Sulake.com in September 2003. Name change from Habbo Limited to Sulake UK Limited only occured August 17, 2004. Electric Mother ventures vanished, it's now all just Sulake (no Labs anymore).
How did it got in the (UK, international) press though ? Press releases presented British entrepeneur Dee Edwards founding Habbo Limited, backed up by Scandinavian (?!) venture capitalist Electric Mother ventures. She hires Sulake to make Habbo Hotel UK. Well, much truth in there, but seems the people from Finland had much to say all the way. As far as it went to Habbo fansites who covered it, Habbox was the first to look at it, and their impression Dee Edwards sold a goldmine not knowing what she did is, looking back, not correct. Especially since Habbo was most likely not profitable back then (see economics). It travelled to a lot of fansites though (yes, we also covered it like that).
Next sections cover some rought lines and/or tiny details on what happended since 2000. Mistakes probably included, though we tried to research every detail, assumptions are being made.
¹ Interesting, in some way, to know who the '10' were. We can actually make an educated guess, that in our people section; ² Elisa press release;