Piczo Announces Itself to the UK

Social networking site Piczo, is on a UK press tour this week and is releasing some interesting statistics on its worldwide and UK-based usage.

Piczo was founded in early 2004 as a paid service. Based on early user feedback it was relaunched as a free service, and founder Jim Conning sent out 100 emails to Canadian teenagers announcing the new site. That is where Piczo’s marketing efforts began and, until now, ended. The result of those 100 emails has been a massive viral spread of the product…today Piczo has 10 million monthly unique visitors that generate about 2.5 billion page views. According to Comscore, 59% of the UK teen Internet audience visited Piczo in June 2006.

Piczo is a Myspace or Bebo type social network, but targets a significantly younger demographic – 75% of Piczo users are between 13 and 16 years old. And unlike Myspace, Piczo is focused on safety first. It is virtually impossible to browse user pages on Piczo. There is no search or browse feature. Users must share their page URL with others for it to be found, and there are numerous ways for users, parents and others to report inappropriate behavior. Piczo has full time staff reviewing all complaints and takes swift action to protect its members.

CEO Jeremy Verba says Piczo is “like a house party, where you invite your friends over and listen to music,” whereas “Myspace is more like a club…it’s for an older crowd, and you can’t necessarily control who they let in”. It’s an apt description, and visitors to the site definitely see a much tamer, less chaotic atmosphere compared to the other social networks.

Piczo is well funded after pocketing a total of US$7 million over two rounds of financing from Sierra Ventures and Catamount in 2005 and 2006. At this point, the company is looking to aggresively expand its international userbase and increase revenues.

Piczo is the fifth largest social network after Myspace, Facebook, Bebo and Tagged based on U.S. Comscore data, but boasts being the largest UK teen site and the third largest UK community site overall.

As part of the press tour, Piczo is also announcing that they will hire a UK based management team to manage operations here.