The name ‘Habbo Hotel’ arose when there was an interest from UK. Dee ‘Daisy’ Edwards expressed interest in an English version and the result was a new company, ‘Habbo Limited’. Habbo UK beta launched January 2001, official launch in February. While Habbo Limited hired Daisy as its site producer, it was a daughter of Electric Mother Ventures Oy, Finnish and property of same guys that ran Sulake before (Sulake Labs being the other daughter company).
Aapo Kyrölä: “We were at a cottage designing the first hotel and armasK had his own vision on it: would be cool to have a goldfish in your room. That’s where ‘Project Goldfish’ came from and eventually ‘Hotelli Kultakala’ too. When it was time to spread internationally a new name had to be made up which would work in every language. Retiisi or toto said ‘happo’ (‘acid’ in Finnish) and the others twisted it into ‘habbo’. We googled and found nothing particular with ‘habbo’. ‘Hotel Snouthill’ was also one bad option. We introduced the name ‘Habbo’ to Daisy, who was the upcoming Hotel Manager of the UK. She didn’t resist the name but wasn’t really excited either, same as everybody else, actually. But eventually the name started to sound nice. The first logo read ‘Grand Habbo Hotel’, but the ‘Grand’-part was taken out fairly quickly”.¹
Eventually Habbo Limited was integrated into Sulake again (Daisy seemingly bought out of shares, and apparently into travelling business these days). Some screenshots from this era (UK/FI): .
2001 and 2002 are characterized by our Sulake guys as a relatively quiet period of development. “When Kultakala was launched in autumn 2000, the immediate popularity made it clear that it was something that might be exportable and that it might be big, but we were still amazed at how huge it was. Although I should add that the next two years were still kind of quiet and slow.” (Aapo Kyrölä) “In the early days, we weren’t entirely clear about what a sensible earnings logic might be. The starting point was to collect user fees from the user in some form, but we thought for a long time about wether that should be through advertising or sponsorship.” (Sampo Karjalainen) “The global increase in broadband connections in 2003 had a clear impact on getting the business off the ground.” (Aapo Kyrölä)²
Even so, in 2001 a Swiss hotel was launched, and early 2003 a hotel in Japan. These were done with partners investing/involved. By the end of 2003 Sulake was ready to launch hotels on their own and local hotels started popping up fast.
¹ Habbo Käsikirja/Handbook, 2006 (translation Star-Fighter).
² “Revelations. The 11 years of Taivas”, 2007.