Habbo Hotel (or just habbo) is a website owned by The Sulake Corporation. This website is aimed at teenagers began in 2000 designer Sampo Karjalainen and technologist Aapo Kyrölä for a Finnish band, a virtual chat room running on Aapo's Fuse technology. After having been contracted to design a virtual game and chat called Lumisota (Snow Wars) for a Finnish ISP, Elisa, they were contracted for another project. They developed Hotelli Kultakala (eng. Hotel Goldfish) with a small team of developers and it was launched in August 2000 on the ISP's web portal.
Aapo and Sampo and Dee Edwards, an entrepreneur from the UK, wanted to create an international business based on the virtual hotel concept and worked on a plan in autumn 2000 and raised finance. By the end January 2001, Habbo Hotel had been launched in beta mode. The new hotel launched officially a few weeks afterwards, aimed at the teenage market, with marketing and payment partners in place, run from a HQ in London. It had a new credits system and community and safety features. The next hotel was launched in Switzerland a few months later, in four languages. It has since been expanded to over 31 countries in five continents, including Hotelli Kultakala in Finland which was made into a Habbo Hotel and has been invested in by venture capitalists.
During the years, Habbo has changed its web design and appearance, the latest change occurred in July 2009.
In May 2006, the service, along with its domain names, were changed from www.habbohotel.com (.co.uk, .com.au, etc) to www.habbo.com (.co.uk, .com.au, etc). In August 2007, Habbo's Chinese community closed down temporarily, the first time a Habbo website has closed. The challenging Chinese market and high operational costs led to the decision of closing the service. Customers in China were redirected to other Habbo communities.In December 2008, Habbo's Russian community announced it was closing in February 2009 as a result of low numbers. Those on the site with "furni" (virtual furniture that can be used to furnish rooms in the hotel that are bought with the use of Habbo Credits or Coins, that can be exchanged for real money given to Sulake) have been told they will receive credit codes for use on the USA Habbo community.
In late May 2009, Habbo opened a new beta version of Habbo for some Habbos to test out before using it officially. In the new version of Habbo, the client uses Flash instead of Shockwave, and the interface of the Hotel is changed.Many activities and features are available on Habbo's website, that do not appear on the Hotel itself. The community section of the website features regularly updated news and events regarding the service. Recommended chat rooms, popular group pages and user pages and user interest tags are also accessible from the website. The website has seen over five different versions. Over the past three years, the website has become more involved with the hotel. Before 2006 users logged in on the hotel, now they log in via the website, which links them to the hotel. The website provides information on users' credit balance, groups, rooms and even friends.