The Redwood City, Calif.-based site also is in talks with an undisclosed agency on a multimillion-dollar ad campaign for its official April launch.
While Kibu (www.kibu.com) faces stiff competition from more established sites, such as Alloy, Bolt.com and Snowball.com, it has heavy-hitter financial backers. Lead investors are Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the venture capital firm that backed Amazon.com and Excite (now Excite@Home); and Jim Clark, co-founder of Silicon Graphics and Netscape Communications Corp., and Tom Jermoluk, chairman of Excite@Home.
`DIGITAL LIFESTYLE' BRAND
Kibu, the Japanese word for foundation, describes itself as a "digital lifestyle" brand for girls. That makes sense: Jupiter Communications estimates 47% of all U.S. teen girls are online.
What attracted Mr. Jermoluk and others to the site is its emphasis on creating online and offline communities for girls, and integrating corporate sponsors into the content. Based on feedback from 3,000 teen girls testing the site, he said, Kibu decided "to see what products are the girls interested in" before approaching sponsors.
Kibu's management also is a draw for investors. The CEO is Judy MacDonald, former CEO of PrintPaks, a multimedia software company Mattel purchased in 1998. She's also been a marketing manager for Hewlett-Packard Co.'s DeskJet printer division.
The Kibu name "tested well with teenage girls," Mr. Jermoluk said. Girls testing the site already refer to themselves as "Kibukis."