Gaia Online Launches Council of Economic Advisors, Revamps Marketplace

Renowned economist Michael Boskin to analyze and advise on leading teen site's virtual economy.

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San Jose, Calif. (PRWEB) September 17, 2007

Gaia Online, the leading online hangout for teens, today announced that it has created a Council of Economic Advisors to be comprised of industry experts, academics, and other specialists to provide on-going analysis and guidance with respect to Gaia's virtual economy. Gaia has also revamped its Marketplace, which experiences upwards of 100,000 transactions daily and is the heart of the Gaia economy.

The founding chairperson of the Gaia Council of Economic Advisors is renowned economist Michael Boskin. Boskin is the T. M. Friedman Professor of Economics and a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. He served as the Chairman of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisors during the presidency of George H. W. Bush, and has held several other high-level economic advisory posts in the U.S. federal government. Under Boskin's leadership, the Council is helping to develop and implement economic norms and policy protocols to govern the Gaia economy.

"As teens spend more and more time in virtual hangouts, the economy inside them becomes very real to its users - for example, there is real economic utility to Gaia Gold and virtual goods within Gaia," said Boskin. "It's exciting as an economist to help define structures and policies for these 'emerging' economies at such an early stage, and Gaia is an excellent case with its huge momentum and intense user engagement."

As part of the evolution of Gaia's economy, the site's Marketplace has been thoroughly revamped in order to better handle the high volume of commerce and transactions conducted daily in the virtual Gaia Gold currency. Upgrades to the Marketplace include improvements to the interface to resemble real-world financial and auction sites such as Yahoo! Finance or eBay. The new design empowers buyers and sellers to track price data with historical graphs, to find optimal prices more easily and to make savvier investments.

The Gaia economy is a central element in the Gaia experience for approximately 2,500,000 monthly users, who buy and sell virtual goods such as clothing, home furnishings, cars and accessories. Users earn Gaia Gold - which is not convertible to hard currency - through participation on the site, for example by playing casual games, posting in Gaia's active forums on a wide range of topics, by sharing or voting on creative writing and artwork, and more. Special monthly collectibles are available each month for U.S. $2.50, and often appreciate in value dramatically (in terms of Gaia Gold) as they become scarcer over time. Users also create virtual goods and online services, which can be purchased for Gaia Gold.

Complementing the work of the Gaia Council of Economic Advisors, Gaia has also brought in Stanford economics department Ph.D. candidate Saar Golde to study the Gaia economy. Golde is defining economic indicators to track regularly, investigating ties between the Gaia currency and real-world money, and identifying openings for new services within the Gaia economy.

"As the Gaia economy expands and becomes more diversified, it is extremely helpful to have the insights and advice of experts like Michael Boskin and the on-the-ground analyses and recommendations from Saar Golde," said Craig Sherman, CEO, Gaia Online. "With the recommendations of our Council of Economic Advisors, we can ensure that the Gaia economy continues to be a healthy and vibrant outlet for the creativity and engagement of our teen users."

Gaia is seeking two additional economists to round out the initial membership for its Council of Economic Advisors. Qualified candidates with experience in monetary policy are invited to contact Gaia Online.

About Gaia Online
Founded in 2003, Gaia Online is the leading teen hangout on the web. Millions of teens come to Gaia every month to make friends, play games, watch movies in Gaia Cinemas, Gaia's virtual theaters, and participate in the world's most active online community. Gaia Online provides a fun, social environment that inspires individuality and creativity. With everything from art contests to discussion forums on poetry, politics, celebrities and more, to fully customizable profiles, digital characters and cars, Gaia Online is a place where teens can create their own space and express their individual style. For more information, visit http://www.gaiaonline.com.

Gaia Online is a trademark of Gaia Interactive, Inc. in the United States and other countries.

For More Information:
Lindsay Stevens
Bite Communications for Gaia Online
(415) 365-0459
lindsay.stevens @ bitepr.com

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