Is Kelowna's Club Penguin fairy tale over? - InfoNews

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Is Kelowna's Club Penguin fairy tale over?

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September 26, 2018 - 3:40 PM

KELOWNA - Has Kelowna’s biggest digital success story, Club Penguin, written its final chapter in the Okanagan?

On Monday, Sept. 24, former Club Penguin owner Lane Merrifield posted a message to his Facebook page acknowledging local layoffs at the Kelowna offices of the company that he helped start in Kelowna in 2005. He also said he learned the "Club Penguin studio is being shut down."

Club Penguin was sold to Disney in 2007 for an estimated $350 million by Merrifield and his two partners, according to a Globe and Mail report.

Disney shut down the Club Penguin desktop game and mobile children’s interactive game, switching to an updated mobile version last year. Staff layoffs at the time could not be confirmed. It's not clear how many employees remained in Kelowna, but Merrifield reached out to them today on Facebook. 

"For those of you affected by the layoffs at Club Penguin: I remember when I first left, one of the weirdest parts was not having anywhere to go every day," he said. "That feeling is why we built the Kelowna Innovation Centre as a place for you to come and figure it out... Come have breakfast at Gather or a coffee at Blenz in the atrium. Meet another ex-Penguin for a beer on the rooftop at Perch. Do some job hunting or dream up your startup at Accelerate Okanagan... Or pop in to FreshGrade or Wheelhouse just to say "Hi." Let this be your place to come every morning while you figure out whats next. We'll keep the coffee warm."

Merrifield could not be reached for details. Club Penguin was also unavailable. 

Merrifield is considered a Kelowna business icon and a co-founder of Club Penguin which at one time was called the largest social network for kids. He has now turned his attention to FreshGrade, software for the education market and is the latest Dragon on CBC's Dragon's Den. 

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