Thursday, December 20, 2007

DDE: The year in review

As the year draws to a close, I reflected on the growth of my business, and took a look back to last December. At that time, which was about 3 months before I went public on the WSE, I owned about 2 1/2 mainland sims, which at the time I was partially renting and partially using to run a few malls, and had yet to purchase my first island. I had bought two mainland sims at auction, the second one about this time a year ago. All told, I had net assets of about 2m Lindens, and monthly revenues of about 200,000L.

Since that time, DDE has bought and sold about 2,000,000 square meters of mainland (about 30 sims), and has bought 22 island estates. We have distributed 1,600,000 Lindens in dividends since going public in March 2006 - almost 1L per share over that time. We currently have net assets of about $16,000,000L, and a monthly revenue stream of about $3,000,000L. Every month, we pay Linden Labs about $7,000 USD in tier payments, and hope to have profits close to 1,000,000L every month by the end of Q1 next year.

In November and December of this year, we filled a very successful secondary offer, that has allowed DDE to expand significantly, and we still maintain very high occupancy. Of the sims that are up and running, we are running at about 95% occupancy, with a few islands still being filled after coming online in the last couple of weeks.

DDE entered into a profitable joint venture with Sienkiewicz Investment Management (SIM) - buying three island estates run jointly. The joint venture now includes some of the most profitable islands in DDE's history, and is benefiting both companies tremendously.

It has not all been good news. DDE has lost money on some investments made in companies that have gone bankrupt, and on a couple of land deals that went sour. However, other stock investments have done extremely well, and overall, the investment portfolio of DDE has increased in value over time.

So, it is with some pride that I look back on the success of DDE - it's growth has been an astounding 800% on net assets, and 1500% on revenues in one year. The next year will not see growth near that level, as i will be scaling back expansion considerably, and will work on solidifying the existing land assets, and DDE will focus attention on new business possibilities in Second Life. But the fundamentals of DDE are already very solid - we have a proven formula for real estate, and will be leveraging the experience gained over the last year to move into new lines of business.

I would like to send a sincere and heartfelt thank you! to all of the people that have showed faith in DDE by investing their Lindens, and by providing valuable feedback and advice as we have navigated the stormy waters of SL through the massive growth in new accounts, financial scandals in SL, the gambling ban, the VAT, and the various and sundry other challenges that present themselves on a daily basis in the metaverse.

Without you, DDE would be a very different and poorer company. With you, we have realized tremendous success and profitability. I am truly humbled by and grateful for the support and faith you have shown, and I renew my pledge to you all to continue to hold DDE in your name, to work even harder to make it prosper, and to share the success it has with you tangibly in the form of dividends and a healthy share price.

Happy Holidays!!

Monday, December 17, 2007

The Nature of Betrayal in Second Life

I recently blogged about the nature of trust in SL. Closely related to that is the nature of betrayal in SL. Recent events with Kejo Merlin, and other people that have betrayed my trust, have left me disheartened and saddened. Are we doomed in Second Life to live a SLife without trust? Does the virtual and anonymous nature of SL mean that we have to build walls around ourselves, both emotionally and financially, to ensure that we are not the victims of repeated betrayal.


Sadly, I think so. I have now given up hope that Kejo will return to Second Life, or at least i have given up hope that the person behind Kejo will ever return under that name, to set things right and fulfill the commitments that he has made to friends, investors, and customers. Literally hundreds of people are affected by this. Personally, I have lost money – 715k Lindens paid for two islands never delivered, and about the same amount invested in Kejo's company, KJL. More than the money, I have lost a friend. Others are in a similar boat. Kejo's land owners will see there homes and businesses blink out of existence eventually, as the Lindens delete Kejo's islands. Investors that put Lindens into KJL will see their investment go poof.


With each SL betrayal, a piece of my faith in SL is destroyed. I look around me and see greed and avarice, posturing, and always the talk – lots of big talk and plans and promises and dreams – backed by nothing. I see people giving others their hearts and souls, as much as you can in Second Life, only to be abandoned and left alone to wonder what they did to deserve this. I see people continuing to search for that human connection that we all crave, that can be so intense in a closed world like Second Life, only to see the connection broken without reasons, recourse, or even reply.


A lot of people talk about Second Life being a game. I don't agree. But there are a lot of people that play games in Second Life. There are different kinds of investing in SL – the financial kind is simple – the risks are high, the potential rewards are high. The rules are that there are no rules, and so we invest out Lindens with the knowledge that we might make a bundle, and we might lose it all. Although losing Lindens is bad, we all know the risks and potential rewards.


But the investment of SELF is more complicated. People invest of themselves in SL almost without realizing it – either by forging relationships, or by creating or building something. We have all put pieces of ourselves into our SL lives, some more than others. Usually it is something like a betrayal that makes us realize just how deep we have got into it – while things are going well, we continue to invest, creating our own emotional equity in our virtual lives.


After a few such betrayals, we can't help but build the walls. I have tried a number of times to limit my personal investment of SELF in SL, but I keep slipping back into old habits and letting myself simply get too involved. At this point, my Second Life has an alarmingly big impact on my real life – I gain satisfaction and fulfillment from things here, just as I suffer disappointments and trials. Whether SL is a game or not, there are no such things as virtual feelings. At this point, I have spent so much time building a Second Life, and have cared deeply about how I am perceived here and what kind of reputation I am building. For the most part, even now, it is pretty positive – I guess I am proud of what I have accomplished in SL, and the kind of virtual person I have become.


But it's certainly not all positive. And I am certainly not proud of everything I have done. And, I am becoming a bit cynical these days about what I can reasonably expect from people here. I don't expect to make real friends here any more – the whole thing is just too transient, and I am a private person that doesn't want to mix SL and RL – so how real can a friendship be? I don't expect any longer that people will honor promises or commitments – too many people treat it with too much disdain for that to be reasonable.


So when i look at my desktop and cringe when I see the SL icon, or I flinch when an email comes in from an inworld chat, I know that it is time to build the walls higher. Frankly, I have a busy and fulfilling RL, I don't need aggravation from SL. So I have my trowel and bricks out and I am putting another couple of rows on the wall.


Lol. This wasn't a real positive blog! I have held off posting anything the last week or so, because I didn't really have anything nice to say – but i figured that even if it isn't positive, it's what's on my mind. I am not looking for a bunch of comments telling me I am great and everything will be ok. Share your own thoughts and experiences – let me know how you deal with betrayals in SL. I think that would be helpful.


DD

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

DDE acquisition of Delicious Skins to proceed

The recent motion seeking approval for DDE's acquisition of Delicious Skins (DSE) still has a day to run, but has already received more than 50% of possible votes, so I have asked LukeConnell to proceed with the conversion of DSE shares into DDE shares, as the mechanism for the acquisition.

I have already destroyed all of my own shares in DSE, and the 3:1 (DSE:DDE) conversion of remaining DSE shares will proceed immediately. As a first step, trading on both companies will need to be halted, so the WSE staff can complete the conversion. I have asked Luke to halt trading as soon as possible, and will keep you all appraised of the timing for the resumption of trading.

Thanks to all of my shareholders for their input and general support of this move. There was a significant minority of shareholders that voted against the motion, and I want to ensure them that I will work hard to make DDE even more profitable after this acquisition.

Please leave a comment or question, and I will try to answer quickly.

Yours sincerely,

Delicious Demar
CEO

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Building dreams. Doing it right.
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Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Nature of Trust in Second Life

Trust is a funny thing. I have been doing a lot of thinking about what it means in Second Life. It's a tough thing in real life to begin with, and when you add the transient, virtual nature of Second Life to the equation, it becomes almost impossible to figure out. Nevertheless, trust and trustworthiness are an intricate part of being human, and recent events in my SLife have got me thinking more and more about it. I have realized that it's important to me to be seen as trustworthy and to see that people trust me, but in the Second Life context, it might not be a realistic goal... I apologize in advance if this sounds like a philosophical treatise – lol – I do tend to get on the soapbox sometimes.



When i think about the nature of trust in SL, it seems to me that there are three important things to consider: the object of trust; the person who trusts; and the environment we live in (i.e. SL). Let's imagine for a moment that the object of the trust is in this case beyond reproach (lmao – it's hypothetical, ok!). Let's assume that by words, deeds, and demeanour, this person is deserving of trust by any objective assessment. She is, in other words, trustworthy.

What about the person that is doing the trusting? This is more complicated. People are all different – some people are by nature “too trusting”, and find it easy to place their trust in others – it is just a part of who they are. Some people are by nature “suspicious”, perhaps based on betrayals in their lives, and find it difficult to place their trust in anyone. So, in some cases, no matter how trustworthy someone else is, some people simply can't take that leap of faith. Because, essentially that is what trust is – a leap of faith. There has to be some risk associated with trust – without it, there is no need to place your trust in someone at all. If, for example, I enter a business arrangement with someone, and we draw up an ironclad contract that covers every eventuality, with tangible consequences for a breach of the contract, then trust is not really necessary at all. I guess an example in RL of this is a prenuptial agreement – it avoids the issue of trust altogether (at least financial trust), by laying out the conditions before the marriage, so that the whole question of trust is avoided. And, of course, it is this very thing which makes people NOT do a prenup – they want to prove to their partner that they are trustworthy, and trust them, and so don't need a contract to back it up. I'm not saying this is smart, mind you, but it's true nonetheless. In the end, some people can trust others and some can't, everything else being equal.


Let's assume for the moment, that if this were RL, we have a completely trustworthy person, and another who has a natural inclination to place trust in others. In RL, this would be no problem – we'd have the “I'd trust them with my life/money/heart” situation. But that brings into play the third factor here – Second Life. The SL environment is a crucially important part of trust for all of us. And, I am sad to say, Second Life might simply have made trust impossible. The virtual nature of SL makes it by necessity less real – and the ethics that govern our behaviour in RL don't always cross over into SL. Most disturbingly, we have all seen people who seem to be able to turn their ethics (and trustworthiness) on and off – acting responsibly and ethically until it becomes too difficult, or painful to do so, and then seemingly “turning” at some point. I can only assume that the rationale in their mind is that SL is not “real”, and so they just bail on the whole thing. The lack of tangible consequences for people in SL makes this easy, at least practically speaking. And the human mind is capable of incredible gymnastics in rationalizing bad behaviour if there are no societal, legal, or real consequences. We all have an image of ourselves as a good person, and can often convince ourselves that we are justified in whatever actions we take. Since the ethical framework in Second Life is so loose and inconsistent, and we see people acting abhorrently on a daily basis, it seems to have almost become acceptable to act badly – to bail on commitments and promises – to betray people. And because it is so loose, there is no ethical framework we can use to judge our own actions.


In RL we have laws, religions, communities, cultures – and all of these provide a frameworks into which we fit our actions, so we know, essentially, what is right and what is wrong for us. It isn't the same for everyone – but it is there nonetheless. In SL, this just isn't the case – the ethical frameworks of RL have only partially been reconstructed, and the norms of behaviour are close to amoral and anarchistic.


So, where does that leave us? We have a trustworthy person and another who is willing to trust, but an environment that is not conducive to trust at all... I am not sure that I have the answer – but there have been at least two people in SL that I would have said “I trust them implicitly based on their actions and words”, that have eventually turned around and screwed me emotionally and/or financially. And the oddest thing is that I truly believe that both of these people, in a RL situation, would be worthy of that trust. But Second Life made it too tempting to take the easy way out, I guess. Behind a veil of anonymity and lack of consequences, they went against their own natures and bailed on SL commitments, perhaps thinking to themselves, that it isn't really “real”. Delicious is just an avatar, after all, not a real person, right? This is just a game – these are just fictional transactions, or whatever. And hey – it would be so easy just to.... leave... not deal... bail.


My inner conflict is this. Because of who I am, I NEED to be trusted. I pride myself on being trustworthy, and I get insulted when people don't want to take me at my word, and just simply TRUST ME! Lol. It's a big part of what makes me tick. But ironically, because of everything i have watched unfolding in SL, I am less and less willing to trust anyone else – no matter how honest and honorable they seem. I realize that this is inconsistent and unfair, and I guess that is why it has been on my mind so much recently. It is one of the reasons I have resisted getting into a lot of partnerships and business ventures with others – the reason I have always done almost everything myself in Second Life. I recognize that the rules of fair play and honor are not the same in SL as they are in RL – and I just don't need the heartache.


I am NOT saying that no-one in SL is worthy of our trust. We are human – we need to trust each other. Frankly, i would rather live a life where I get screwed by people I trusted, than one in which i was unable to trust anyone. So, I will continue to place my faith in others – in spite of the mounting evidence to the contrary. This might seem naïve in light of everything we have seen over the last year, but i don't mind being a bit naïve. I for one will continue to to try to earn the trust of the people i work with and work for in DDE and in everything I do in SL – there is no other way I know how to behave. However, I think that with this realization, I will be able to not take it personally when someone is unable to put their trust in me.


As i was writing this, I thought of a couple of my favorite quotes that might apply. Mahatma Ghandi once said, “You must become the change you want to see in the world.” Far from giving up on the ethics of Second Life, we must redouble our efforts to have a strong personal commitment to doing things right! Others will follow. And, some clever person once said, “Time may heal all wounds, but time also wounds all heels.” It's karma people – eventually you reap what you sow.


As I said once in a previous post, in the end, we are left alone with ourselves in those quiet moments, right? And I don't want to spend my quiet moments alone with an asshole...


DD

Saturday, December 1, 2007

A Vision for DDE: Building dreams. Doing it right.

The secondary offer and transfer of islands from Kejo Merlin Land Group (KJL) have offered me a great opportunity to do some thinking about Delicious Demar Enterprises, and the future of DDE. It has been a frantic month - setting up 8 new sims is quite a challenge, especially with the numerous bugs and problems caused by Second Life! However, now that DDE runs approximately 25 sims, both mainland and island, throughout SL, it makes us one of the top half-dozen real estate companies in SL, and it was time to start seriously planning for the future.

The first thing to establish is what is the place of DDE in my life. As the months have gone on, the business side of SL has taken more and more time - which is fine - I really enjoy it. But I never intend for SL to become my job - I have one of those in RL which I like very much and which keeps me nice and busy. So, clearly, it is not my intention to continue to grow DDE forever - I want to get it to a manageable size, and then stop expansion and just enjoy it. In addition, although the land biz has been good to me and to DDE, I have many other projects in mind, and I want to have time to pursue those as well. I love to build and create things, make skins, etc. So, I have no intention of trying to make DDE the biggest (or even second biggest) real estate company in SL. Now, with the successful completion of the secondary offer on the horizon, I think I have grown DDE to the point where I would like to slow growth and simply turn a consistent and healthy profit.

The second thing to establish is, what is my role going to be in DDE into the future. I guess the simple answer is this - in large part, I AM DDE, and that is not going to change. I am going to continue to play the same active, hands-on role I have always played. In recent weeks, I have been able to delegate some of this work to others, but the management and operations of DDE is going to remain with me.

Having a company on the WSE is a double edged sword. On the one hand, kind investors have entrusted me with their hard-earned Lindens to invest in assets and create wealth for them, a responsiblity that I take very seriously. On the other hand, as I create more shares in secondary offers, I see my own ownership stake in the company diminish. One of my main goals in the coming months is to remedy this. With a dual strategy of buying shares with my own money, and also buying back and deleting shares with some of DDE's profits, I am going to increase my ownership in DDE until it is at least 50% +1. Depending on the market conditions, share price, etc, this could take a few months, or it could take longer. Regardless, I am not satisfied owning less than half of myself, so to speak, and will not rest until this is fixed... In fact, it may well be that over time, I will continue to gain an ever larger proportion of DDE shares. Personally, I think this will be very good for shareholders. Those that want to sit on shares to receive the healthy dividends I have established, can do so. Those that want to do some profit-taking can be assured that there will be constant share trading created by this substantial buy back strategy, which should keep the share price relatively high.

Finally, and most importantly, what business does DDE want to BE? What started as a hobby has turned into a significant business. I think that the way I have run DDE is rooted in my values, and that I have always tried to take a consistent approach of professionalism mixed with fun to everything I do in Second Life. So, I thought it was time to more formally lay out the mission and vision of DDE. Yeah, I know that mission and visions are sometimes just a lot of words, but I want to have something to look at when I am making decisions, to reflect the decisions against by asking myself, "Does doing THIS help me accomplish THAT."

So - I have thought for a long time about a statement that captures what DDE is all about - helping people realize their dreams in Second Life, building something of value, and doing it ethically and professionally. What I have come up with is this, a statement that I think encompasses all of these things:

Building Dreams. Doing it right.

I hope that this statement can be a lighthouse for me as I navigate the stormy waters of Second Life - guiding me in everything I do. Whenever I have a decision to make, I can see whether it helps to advance that vision. Dreams can be those of the people that get land from DDE for their home or business, customers that buy our products to enrich their SLives, or investors that want to make a good return on their investment. As we all know, sometimes the latter can seem like a distant dream... lol. Doing it right means both doing it ethically, and doing it properly and professionally.

So, onto the mission statement. A mission statement is supposed to give people an idea of what DDE actually DOES, day to day - the reason why DDE exists. I have tried to capture that in the following mission statement:

Delicious Demar Enterprises is an established and trusted company that provides land and other services and products in Second Life at a fair price, and with excellent customer service. DDE matches it's land, services, and products with the needs of its customers, to enable them to improve their Second Life experience. DDE is a publicly listed company on the World Stock Exchange that strives to create wealth and value for its shareholders.

With any luck, this is self-explanatory. lol. If not, it probably needs some work. I would be really interested in your feedback on this. Any comments would be greatly appreciated.

Onward and upward!!

DD

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

vignette

I watched the sun sneaking down over the horizon. One minute it was there and the next it was gone. It had been a great day on Second Life - for once I had closed the IM box, and gone to a friend's club to do some dancing. I had spent the day with Anna - the first time in a long time that we had just hung out, went to buy some new (very naughty) clothes, and just kinda BEEN together. Anna is about my oldest friend on Second Life - we met on my second day there - the first day I had spent underwater - hiding under a bridge and playing with the mod sliders on my Appearance tab so I didn't look like a house wife from Des Moines - I guess I was as vain then as I continue to be now. lol Over time, I have spent less and less time just having fun in SL - I guess the whole "business" thing has monopolized my time a lot over the last few months. I tend to get bored pretty easily - usually I am good for about 10 minutes of dancing and being witty, before I start looking around for something else to do. but for some reason, this day was different - my ADHD was at bay - and I was able to sit back with the keyboard, crank the music up, and just enjoy the sound and feel of SL, and the company of good friends.

The music was pounding - it was some heavy techno stream, the kind of music that I love when I am dancing - it reminds me of a more carefree time in RL when I cut loose and would just let life take me wherever it wanted to. Anna was looking particlarly yummy - she got some naughty little corset that showed off ALL her assets. and another of my friends, barnowlgirl, was trying desperately to set me up with one her hot man friends. hehe. He is a sweety - although I warned her that I am a terrible heart breaker in here. I decided along time ago that I was going to limit the emotional investment I made in Second Life - I crossed that line a few times when I first started and it never ended well. But for now, I wasn't worrying about it - I was just flirting like a catholic school girl and having a great time.

I had a chance to reflect back on the last year in Second Life - the swirling lights and pounding beat were a bit hypnotic - and my mind wandered into some suprisingly real-life questions about this virtual-life world that we play in. Am I happy in SL? Do I have the right balance between work and SLife? Do I take it all just a little too seriously? Do I have any regrets? I wasn't doubting myself, just rolling the thoughts around in my mouth like a nice glass fo red wine, lazily tasting them and seeing what flavours they had. It was an oddly special moment, these quiet thoughts amid the frantic movements on the dance floor.

At one point, I got a message from someone that had heard I did the land thing - who was standing on one of my parcels looking to rent it - so I took a little break from the dance and popped over to meet her. first thing I usually do is read someone's profile to get an idea what they are all about. And then, I usually talk to them for a little, asking what they are looking for, what they like, and what sorts of things they like to do in Second Life. The plot we were standing on was a nice piece of land, bordered by water, sandy and flat - perfect for just about anything - but it was nestled between a dance club and a couple of gorgeous homes with a garden in a nouveau-goth kind of motif.

After a minute or two, it became clear to me that although the land was good for her in terms of size and terrain - she would be much happier on a different kind of sim - quieter and more relaxed - so i took a couple of minutes to look over the parcels that I had available, and quickly found one on a perfect sim - quiet and classicly done - few neighbours, and with one of her favorite jazz clubs (Smooth - awesome place) on one part of the sim. In the end, we zoomed over there and she rented the plot. She was SOOO happy - I could feel her smiling from the other end of the ether, and she kept thanking me again and again. She called over a couple of friends and started to plan out her new SLife as a land owner. She had that particular excitement that I love to see - all about new possibilities and creativity. It was awesome.

So, I popped back to the club, and joined the dance again - bumping and grinding to the music, and chatting and flirting with the cute boy. and I realized that, yeah, I am happy in SL, and all is right with the virtual world.

:-)

DD

Friday, November 23, 2007

The road to hell...

So.... I got Abuse Reported today... I think it's the first time it has ever happened to me, actually, which is quite amazing considering how many people I have pissed off in my time in Second Life... lol. It ended up being quite a disheartening experience, so I thought I would write a blog about good intentions going wrong...

So, as you know, I am purchasing some islands from Kejo Merlin this month. One of them is a beautiful sim that only had one renter - who had done a wonderful job of setting up the sim, and had in turn rented it out to others. Just before the sim was transferred - the renter informed me that he was not going to renew the lease - which was fine with me - and we had a few discussions about the transition. He had paid his tier to Kejo up to November 27th - and of course I am honoring all of Kejo's arrangements with tenants.

We spoke on about November 10th, and the renter offered to leave the sim early - to which i responded that it was up to him - I was happy to wait until the 27th. To which, i THOUGHT he told me, no - I will tell them that they have to leave by next week... What i was to find out afterward, was that what he meant was that he would tell them next week that they had to be out by the 27th...

So, the transfer went through and I visited the sim a few times, and always saw 0 traffic, but all of their things were still there - houses, furniture, etc... This morning, I figured they were all gone, and so i started to combine the parcels with a view to setting up the sim from scratch. I rezzed a few objects to help me with this. I had combined the whole sim into one parcel, and had divided 1/4 for a renter that I knew wanted it. I went to return my own objects
, and (as I am embarrassed to admit I have done before) i hit the wrong button and returned everything on the parcel!

Well, the IM's started pouring in, but I had to log for a bit and wasn't able to deal with the problem immediately. By the time i got back a couple of hours later, I had received a number of really angry IM's from the owner (understandably!). Some of the objects were group owned - which means they were deleted! and the rest were returned in the nightmare bundles that SL creates when returning lots of stuff. It was a total mess. Turns out that before I could respond to him, he Abuse Reported me for it! When I logged back on, I tried to tell the renter that I had made a mistake - and i was really sorry - and that I was contacting the Lindens to see if i could get everything fixed. Well - he basically told me that I was a dishonest bitch (my word, not his), and that he hoped i enjoyed getting rich by screwing him and his renters. I felt REALLY bad about it and tried to apologize twenty times - and to compensate him for any losses of items - but the damage was already done. He had to take a lot of flack from his own renters - who were also understandably pissed.

Within an hour, I was able to get the Lindens to roll back the sim, and all of the renters objects were returned to it, exactly as they had been before my mistake. I let the renter know that it was all fixed - and he basically said he didn't care - that i could keep my damned sim and my damned money, and that he hoped I could sleep at night... That's kind of where things have been left. No word yet on the Abuse Report...

It was a very frustrating experience. On the one hand, it was definitely my mistake (or a couple of mistakes compounded) - so I can totally understand the renter's anger and annoyance. I would be pissed too! On the other hand, I did whatever I could to fix it, and in the end, nothing was lost, and the island is now the way it was before any of this happened. But, I have left this renter with the belief that I am dishonest and unfair - which really drives me crazy.
I must have apologized 20 times - and he was just unwilling to hear an apology. That's within his rights, I guess.

In the end, there's no really happy ending to this - I guess it is just the price of doing business - people are going to get mad at you and dislike you - you are going to make mistakes, and sometimes deserve their anger and dislike. I guess the only thing I can do is have a clear conscience that I tried my best - and that mistakes like this happen really rarely.

But, I'll tell you, I AM going to have trouble sleeping tonight....

DD

Sunday, November 18, 2007

What is a "vision" anyway??

I hate bizspeak. Whenever I here people start to talk about "leveraging synergies" and "forging meaningful alliances with stakeholders" I tend to shudder a bit. One of the things that used to drive me crazy was the idea of a company "vision" - I always thought that this was just a lot of wasted words. At one company I worked at, we had a focus group to do some divergent thinking about a new visions statement, that was already way too wordy, and it all just seemed so silly.

But a while back, I heard a great story about a man who was teaching a seminar to top executives about strategic planning and visioning. He walked in with plastic ziplock bags full of puzzle pieces - not difficult puzzles - but those 150 pieces kids puzzles of some ghastly scene from Walt Disney World or something. There was nothing else in the bags but puzzle pieces. He threw a bag on each table and told the executives to assemble the puzzles, and started a timer. The executives were all senior types, very smart and capable, and so set to the the task with enthusiasm. The fastest table managed to do their puzzle in about 1o minutes, with the last one, not too far behind at about 15 minutes.

The teacher congratulated them on their brilliance. And then he told them that the night before, he had given the same puzzle to his two children, aged 7 and 9. The kids had never seen the puzzle before, but nevertheless, they had managed to complete the puzzle in only 8 minutes - faster than the best table of senior execs. "The difference," said the teacher, "is that i gave the kids the puzzle in its box instead of in a ziplock bag. On the front of the box was the picture of what the puzzle was supposed to look like when it was finished."

That picture on the front of the box is the "vision". For some reason, this was the most clear explanation I have ever heard of for the elusive concept of a vision - it just made a lot of sense to me. Oh, you can get where you need to go without one - with brains and work, you're bound to have some success. But imagine the heights you can climb to if everyone is working from the same picture, and they all have it clear, right there in front of them! I realize now why some successful business people are called "visionaries"...

Ok, ok - so not the most interesting blog ever! WE all gotta have off days - what can I tell you?? So leave me a nasty message - I do my best writing when i am pissed off. lol

DD

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Getting your own island - building dreams in SL

Today, a friend of mine approached me and asked me whether I thought that he could get his own island, a place where he could live and build in peace, and rent out part of it in order to cover the tier, or a large part of the tier. Lots of people had told him not to bother - that the number of people renting land was on the decline and that he was doomed to lose money... Actually, I get asked this a lot - people dream of one day owning their own island, but don't know how to go about doing it, or don't have the cash that the island costs initially - which is $1675 USD if you buy direct from Linden Labs.

The fact is, that this is very doable - but like everything in Second Life - it can't be done without two crucial things: planning, and effort. In fact, these things are the basis of everything in SL - I might even venture to say RL as well. You NEED to plan!!! i am constantly stunned by how many people TP over to their new island, and look around saying to them selves, "Uhhmmmm, so now what?" You can save yourself a ton of stress and headaches by thinking through exactly what you are going to do with the island - is it going to have a theme? a certain look? commercial or residential? what size parcels? selling or renting? what is the rent/tier going to be? are you going to advertise? how? what is the ad going to say? are you going to do something for new tenants to welcome them? what rental box system are you going to use? how are you going to track your rental transactions? what is the covenant going to say?

Those are just the questions off the top of my head. The point is that running and renting an island isn't difficult - but it goes a lot smoother if you think things through before you start.

I had a boss once time that was being pressured to open a new store quickly, and the head office was giving him a really hard time about speeding things up, but keeping it on budget. He called the head office, and he said to them - there's three things you seem to want. Do it fast. Do it well. Do it cheap. You get to pick two.

This really made an impression on me - and it is sooo true. The same thing applies to building up to getting your own island. If you want to do it well, and cheap, it is going to take you a long time. If you want to do it fast and cheap - you're probably not going to do it very well - you'll get a crappy island from someone else at a cutrate price, etc. etc. If you want to do it fast and well - you're going to need the cash up front to make it work.

Everyone is different, and wants to do things their own way - but my advice to you is to listen to my boss - you get to pick TWO: fast, cheap, and well. However... lol If you want it to work, you have to do it well - and by that I mean, if you are going to try to have a self-sustaining island and rent some of it out - you will need to become a good landlord. and that means knowing the tools and tricks of SL REALLY well - honing your customer service skills - and finding some way (meditation, drugs, an elastic around your wrist...) to keep your patience with the people that are wanting to rent land from you.

So, in the end - you really only have one choice - whether to do it cheap, or to do it fast.
If you can do it fast - if you have $1675 you can invest in Second Life - then Bob's your uncle. Do some of the planning I was talking about - talk to other land owners (IM me, for example, or Lindsay Druart, or Sarah Nerd, or Kejo Merlin, or Pablo Sienkiewicz, or Rockwell Ginsberg) and ask their advice about what works for them. Then, when you have planned it out - go to the Land Store - or try to find an empty island for sale inworld - and do it!! If you rent out at least half a sim, you should be able to cover most of your tier - if you rent out 2/3, you can definitely cover it, 3/4 you get a little pocket change toward the purchase price.

If you don't have the money for a whole island, but you do have some money available every month, and you have a way of making money inworld (cuz frankly, if you don't have any money or any source of income in SL - then you might as well forget about having an island to begin with...) then you can build up to having your own island. Try to talk to sim owners about a rent-to-own, or buy some mainland to start with, and rent IT out - you can practice and make some money. If you can scrape together enough to buy 1/4 sim (which right now will cost you about 115-120k Lindens) - you'll have a monthly tier of $75 - but you should be able to get renters in to pay you $120 a month - and you can use the difference to expand a bit, or to save up for the island.

Or, do whatever YOU do well - build stuff and open a store - make clothes - script. The real secret is, NOTHING IN SL IS EASY. You simply cannot make money in SL for nothing. Hell, even escorting was hard work (pun intended...) - you have to put in a lot of hours to make decent money at it - rofl. Whatever you do - remember to plan, and put aside money for the island purchase. This is exactly what I did - at the very beginning, I put some money into SL - not a lot - but since then, I have never (until yesterday when i bought some of my own friggin shares in the secondary) put any of my RL money into SL - I have build everything up over time - by treating everything I do pretty seriously - doing a lot of thinking and planning, and just spending a shitload of hours making it work! Oh, and having a sunny and sparkly disposition - LMFAO.

I'm not sure if any of that is helpful - or even relevant to the people that might come to this blog. But I'd be interested in any other thoughts people might have about this - about how to achieve your dreams in SL...

Happy hunting...

DD

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

FED UP!!

Ok, I think I am officially fed up. This morning, when I logged on , I received a notice form the SL Exchange Commission group, of which I am a member, which basically demanded that either LukeConnell pays Midas Commons 650k (his portion of the bond payment from the Hope Capital bonds that was deferred), or they are calling on all members to delist from the World Stock Exchange. Failing that, they are asking all investors to divest from companies that do not delist. It was a three paragraph memo - with no real details. It was sent by Intlibber Brautigan.

Ok, is it just me, or is it time for all these big men to put their penises back in their pants and stop waving them about and thumping their chests???

I am not going to go into details about the Midas Bank debacle - it has already been flogged (and blogged) to death. There is a good synopsis and discussion on Maelstrom Baphomet's newsletter blog - The Dragon's Bite. I do find it interesting that Midas Common's acount is gone, though...

What is driving me crazy and making me sick to death of this whole "stock exchange" and "financial sector of SL" nightmare - is the self-appointed, puffed-up egotists who claim to have some sort or authority (be it moral or actual) over anything. Who on earth is the SLEC to demand that I delist???? When one of their Board Members actually OWNS ANOTHER EXCHANGE?? are you kidding me??

This kind of move is both childish and harmful. Childish, because the announcement from SLEC was so obviously in conflict of interest, and so blatantly biased. Let me be totally clear - the concept of an SLEC is a good one - which is why I joined it early on. But they have been conspicuously silent about all of the other scams and rip-offs going on in the financial community - until this one. And THEN, they don't even have the decency to call on Luke to provide the bond payment to everyone as initially promised - they simply ask him to pay ONE INVESTOR the amount he would have been due. And, that investor no longer exists in Second Life! And, it is harmful, because someone might actually read it and take it seriously!

As I said, I am not weighing in on the Midas Bank affair - I have educated myself as best I can about it and I have my own opinions about what happened, and whether it was right or wrong - on both sides of the story.

But this Notice from SLEC is a direct attack on Delicious Demar Enterprises - whether it was intended to be or not. It is telling me, that based on some as yet undisclosed investigation, that I should delist in the middle of a secondary offer - or else it is calling on my investors to boycott DDE and sell off thier shares. If anybody actually took the SLEC seriously, then it would have the potential to cause panic, uncertainty, etc... This makes me furious!

And, as I said, fed up. My first thoughts when I read this announcement, and then educated myself about the Midas Bank affair was this: get the fuck out!

I am seriously contemplating a planned and orderly withdrawl from the WSE, and i will definitely NEVER list on another exchange. Of course, I would never do it in such a way to screw my investors, and would plan for an agressive buyback strategy, rather than a liquidation - so it would take some time to complete.

but I have had enough of this. I run a good company - and owe everything to my investors and what you have allowed me to accomplish. But the ground keeps shifting under my feet. And nobody else (well - ok - a few) plays by the rules! Never fear - I will alwyas take care fo the people that have given me their money to build my business - i am NOT like the ones that have taken your money and run away.

and of course, I am angry and ranting... lol - probably by this time tomorrow I will have thought better about my outburst. But for TODAY - Dayummmmm, am I pissed! And you deserve to know about it!

DD

Monday, November 12, 2007

WSE Key Metrics

Well, as painful as it turned out to be (lol) - I have taken the next step in my analysis of the companies listed on the World Stock Exchange (WSE). Those of you who read my blog about the first 25 companies listed on the exchange will be familiar with the kind of metrics that I have used to examine their performance, but I have expanded them a bit, and completed the analysis for the rest of the companies on the exchange.

I should start off with my own disclaimers and such: Any factual errors in these numbers are completely my own, and are just that - errors. I have tried to ensure that my numbers are correct, based on publicly available data on the WSE website, but may have made a few errors in calculation. Whenever possible, I have used the financial statements posted in the WSE format, but on several occasions, these were either missing, or obviously incorrect, in which case I used financials posted in the announcements.

Most importantly!! The metrics provided here are ONLY ONE factor in analyzing a company on the WSE - and do not reflect the specific circumstances of any particular company. The range of industries and companies on the WSE makes it impossible to make an investment decision based solely on the numbers. For example, certain companies (like those offering investment portfolios, and especially derivative type investments) should not be judged on their performance as seen here - since they are by nature based on the future performance of OTHER stocks on the WSE. However, for the most part, I found these numbers very interesting indeed.

For the purposes of this post, I am not providing and analysis per se, but simply making the raw numbers available for your interest and perusal. I will eventually (when time permits!) provide my own thoughts about the performance of specific companies, but i wanted to get these metrics completed as a first step.

I would love for people to post their thoughts, reactions, and their own analysis here, as well as any question that you may have about the way in which it was done. And, as always, please feel free to IM me inworld as well with any questions, comments, or concerns.

HERE they are!!!

DD


Friday, November 9, 2007

The Changing Nature of a Business

I got a message today from Casper Trebuchet. When he did his report on DDE as an analyst on the WSE, one of the things that he pointed out as a possible weakness of DDE was the fact that up to now, it has basically been a one woman show, and that as the business grows, one person will be less and less able to manage everything. He makes a good point for two reasons. First, as DDE grows, the absolute magnitude of time required increases. and second, if I spend all my time with tenants and running the day-to-day ops, I have no time to develop new business streams and diversify DDE so that it can continue to perform solidly into the future.

As you can imagine, this is something I have been keenly aware of. As DDE has grown, it has taken more and more time to run effectively, and I have thought a lot about what to do once the company gets too big for one person to handle. So, I am doing three things to reduce the amount of time that is required to run DDE:

1. Getting some help! This is the most critical thing - I have found two people who are going to help me with the day-to-day operations of DDE. It is not easy to find people with the right temperament , and an extensive knowledge of land, groups, and finances in SL - all of which are required to effectively manage land. Between the three of us, we can cover a lot of time inworld, and can spread the work out between us.

2. Automating. I have been working on a system for automating the rentals for DDE, so that they will require much less time and attention. Believe it or not, until now, I have used a single rental box (i.e not networked) system for all of my parcels (or at least the ones that pay in Lindens). Although this takes more time than centrally controlling the boxes from a server, it has had the huge benefit of giving me a reason to meet and interact with all of my renters (see #3, below). However, with over 60 tenants, some automation is required, so I have been working on an efficient system to manage all the renters through a networked, web integrated vendor system that will really cut down on the time required for tracking. In addition, i have developed a neat little database and rental box naming system which allows for easy tracking of all my financial transactions in SL. These two things together will save many hours a week.

3. Reducing the personal touch. This is the hardest one for me - because it is one of the things i love about being in the land biz. I think that almost all my tenants are on my friends list, and I have attended their store/club openings, weddings, and parties, or just popped over to hang out with them, check out what they are doing with the land, and catch up on what is new with their SLife. However, it is inevitable that in order to effectively manage any more than I have now, i will have to step back a bit and reduce the one-on-one interaction with tenants. This is the main reason that I have held onto the day-to-day operations for as long as I have - i want to make sure that all of the tenants of Delicious Estates feel taken care of, and feel like they have a landlord that actually gives a shit about them. It's also the main reason i have waited to find the right people that can give the same kind of personal attention to people, on behalf of DDE, when I am not able to myself.

On the positive side, the personal approach i have taken to managing land in Second Life has meant that I don't really need to advertise any more - I get referrals from most of my tenants if anyone they know wants land, and most of the requests I get are by word of mouth. DDE has not had to post a classified in a long time, and still runs at almost full occupancy all the time - with new people having to be turned away because I can't get land fast enough!

Still, Casper makes a great point, and it's not one that i can ignore. And, I haven't had whatever success has come my way by ignoring the inevitable! So, Casper, rest assured that I am taking steps to free myself up to manage the company strategically, without getting totally bogged down in the day-to-day operations.

:)

Del

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

The First 25 WSE companies

Happy Tuesday, from Toronto, where we freeze our bits off in the crisp morning air....

A few days ago, I was approved to be an analyst on the World Stock Exchange. In order to do my due diligence before actually reviewing anybody, I started to just look through the financials and posts of all of the companies on the WSE, and I started to see some interesting trends. I wondered to myself: "Self, you remember the relatively few companies that were in the WSE when DDE first went live, and I wonder how the first 25 companies that went public are doing."

So, I cycled through the announcements on the WSE, from the first company's first announcement in March, 2007, to the 25th company's first announcement (which i was gratified to discover was DDE - hehe). Here's a list of the first 25 companies that made a post on the WSE, and their current status. Ah.... the memories that they bring back... Ginko, Montana's, Yellow Paperclip...

1Tao Heavy IndustriesTHIActive
2The Success FundTSFBankrupt
3Games LimitedGAMBankrupt
4Bob Perry's StoreBOBBankrupt
5People PoolPPLActive
6Kavai ConglomerateTFIBankrupt
7Touchet Group CorporationTGCBankrupt
8AM Sports BetAMSActive
9Sun Media ConsultantsSUN Active
10Ginko Currency ServicesGCSBankrupt
11L&L Rentals and SalesLLLActive
12Ford Edelman DesignsFEDHalted
13Lotto Networks UnlimitedLOTHalted
14Action Mortgage and InvestmentAMIActive
15Alluris EstatesALLActive
16Ginko Investment FundGIFBankrupt
17Midas Development CorpMDCBankrupt
18Redux TechnologiesRDXActive
19Montana's Poker RoomMPRBankrupt
20Blumont CapitalNMCActive
21Yellow PaperclipYEPMoved
22PPC HoldingsPPCBankrupt
23Second Street ParntersSSPActive
24True 2 Life StudiosTLSBankrupt
25Delicious Demar EnterprisesDDEActive


Now, the fact that many of the companies are now out of business is not really a surprise. As Casper Trebuchet pointed out to me yesterday, the speed of SL is accelerated compared to RL, and whereas 50% of companies are out of business within 5 years in real life, it takes considerably less time for the carnage in SL - it only took seven months. The disturbing thing to me was the failure of MOST of the financing/banking companies. Obviously, people that jumped into these industries early, expecting SL to behave like RL, were mistaken, and either simply did not know what they were doing, or misjudged the SL economy and market badly.

So, I did a little more digging on the 13 companies that have actually managed to survive for the last seven months, and decided to look at a few key performance indicators for each. Now, please remember that I am NOT a financial analyst in RL - and I provide these numbers as they are - without any real description of the present circumstances of each company. There are cases in which extenuating circumstances exist (like Ford Edelman Designs, for example, in which the CEO, a US soldier, was posted to Iraq).

The metrics I have used are quite simple - some of them (EPS, PE Ratio, NAVPS) are all standard financial indicators, but I have tried to add a few that are specific to the WSE/SL environment:

  • Average Number of Posts per Month: this is a measure of how communicative each company is. although more is not always better, it is interesting that the companies that are successful financially, also seem to have kept their investors and the community more informed.

There are 5 indicators dealing with dividends:
  • - total number of dividends posted: this will give you a rough idea of how often they post. Remember the time frame is 7 months.
  • - Total dividend per share: is the sum of all the dividends (per share) over the last seven months.
  • - average dividend per share: over the last seven months
  • - last dividend date: shows how up to date they are with giving dividends
  • - last dividend per share: the amount of the last dividend posted - this can show whether the recent dividend is lower or higher than the average - i.e. what direction it is going in.

The rest are pretty self-explanatory:
  • average 30 day share price (from Nov 2)
  • 30 day trading volume
  • Total shares created
  • Total shares in float (in which i exclude shares held by the CEO)
  • Price Earnings (PE) Ratio: taken from the WSE financials, in which i believe they use the current price, divided by the most recent statement of earnings - so not necessarily always a level playing field on this one. This is a measure of the value of the stock.
  • Earnings per share (EPS): again from the WSE financials, except in one or two cases, where i had to dig through the announcements to find the most recent earnings. This is a measure of the potential profitability of the stock.
  • Net Asset Value Per Share (NAVPS): once again from WSE - simply the total value of assets divided by the number of shares. This is a measure of the stability of the stock, for some companies.
These last three are some of the most standard measure, as I understand it, and should be looked at together - some companies with very few tangible assets (like service companies), and hence a low NAVPS, can nevertheless be very profitable, and have a high EPS.

I will leave it for another post to go into more details on my analysis, but thought that some of you would be interested in seeing the numbers first.

If there is any enthusiasm at all, I will do the same sort of thing for all of the companies on the WSE - rather than picking one specific company to review to begin with. Please feel free to leave comments, questions, observations etc, about either the numbers, or about the post in general.

mwah

DD

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Thoughts on the future, the secondary share offer, and more...

So, I thought I would post something about what I see for the future of Delicious Demar Enterprises, since it is only fair that investors and potential investors know what the plan is into the future.

As I have mentioned many times before, here and elsewhere, part of the rush of SL and business in SL is the challenge of building something out of nothing. It's something that I really enjoy. and for all of you who think I am getting rich from DDE, I'd just like to mention that i have never taken a penny out of any of my businesses for personal use outside Second Life. Everything I have made, I have put back into the business. In my view, it's the only way for me to grow the business at the pace that I want. If I were to take half the profits out for myself, or even pay myself a salary, then that money is not being used to create wealth for the company.

That is not to say that at some point, I won't sit back and enjoy some of the fruits of my labours. There will come a point when I stop expanding the company, or at least the cash engine of it, the land business. When DDE is large and profitable enough to provide generous regular dividends to its shareholders, I may consider both taking my dividends out of SL, and paying myself a salary - but from where I sit right now, I think this is a loooong way away. I want to make sure that DDE is totally solid and that shareholders are fat and happy before i consider it.

The land business is about as stable as it has been in a while, and is clearly one of the most stable sectors in Second Life. However, in some ways, we are all subject to the whims of Linden labs - they could change tier prices tomorrow, or decide to do away with Lindens altogether - who knows! And so, in SL, the company that sits back and rests on its past accomplishments is the business that is slowly dying. I am always keeping my eyes open for opportunities in SL, and I think the next 6-12 months is going to be a watershed time for business in the metaverse. Whole new streams of business will come online with the potential of other virtual worlds on the LL platform, which will provide great opportunities for those who can take advantage. I intend to keep myself informed and in touch with the opportunities that arise, and position myself to jump in at the right moment, using whatever expertise I have build in SL over the last couple of years.

As anyone who has watched DDE knows, I am by nature relatively conservative - I am careful about what I commit to, and am careful to examine decisions from all sides before making a choice. However, once a decision is made, I will move quickly. The recent secondary offer is a good example - the opportunity to get relatively cheap land from KJL is a limited window of opportunity - a few weeks to a month - in which DDE has an opportunity to significantly grow its land base, at about 70% of the usual cost of buying islands from Linden Labs. So, I decided to consult with my shareholders, and with their blessing, posted a large secondary offer - to take advantage of this great opportunity. Normally, I would not consider expanding this quickly, but the current situation seemed to good to pass up.

I was really heartened by the overwhelming support of my investors. I contacted a number of them individually, and of course held a resolution vote on the WSE - and the support was very, very strong for the secondary. As usual, they asked me some great questions, and offered some great advice, which was much appreciated.


THE PLAN

So, overall, what people wanted to know when I talked to them was, what is the plan for the secondary money. It's very simple. The cash raised in the secondary offer will be used to buy islands from KJL, which is liquidating all of its assets. Many of these islands are already totally full and profitable - and I will of course honour the existing arrangements Kejo has with his tenants and land owners. The rent paid by these tenants will typically allow DDE to realize a profit of between $100 and $300 USD monthly for each sim,depending on the specific sim, which costs me between $1100 and $1500 USD to buy. If you want to know more about why the huge variation, let me know and i will make a post to explain. So, profit per sim, per month runs from 10% to 30% of initial purchase price, and from 30% - 100% of monthly tier costs.

Depending on the sales of the secondary shares, DDE will be able to buy between 6 and 12 new islands in this way, saving an estimated $2500 - $5000 USD in the process, and will have total holdings of between 20 and 26 sims. At this level, DDE will have a solid critical mass, and can slow the pace of expansion to that supported by profits - probably in the neighbourhood of 1-2 sims per month over the next six months.

As I have mentioned on the WSE - DDE has committed to a guaranteed dividend of 0.02L per week, per share, for at least the next three months. I fully expect to be able to provide even higher dividends after that time. And, when I say "guaranteed dividend", I mean GUARANTEED, which means that if I have to sell my fricking car to cover the dividend, I will do so with a grim smile. Just so you know... lol

I am really hoping that investors see the opportuntity that I see. I really see this secondary as the way to take DDE to the next level of success, built upon the solid foundation of its past success. Please feel free to leave me a comment or a question here - I will endeavour to answer as quickly as possible and to the best of my ability.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Why on earth would you run a business in SL???

I have to admit, watching things unfold in Second Life over the last year and a half or so has been an eye opening experience. when I started, I spent about a week dancing and going to clubs and being sparkly and witty, and playing with prims, which i thought were about the coolest thing since sliced bread - I had never spent time in a virtual world before, and it was all so exciting and new. After a very short time, i realized that i had to DO something in SL, or I was going to go crazy.

so, of course I became an escort. lmao. to some, this will probably lower me in your estimation, but frankly, I could care less... I have a pretty broad definition of "acceptable behaviour" when it comes to things like sexuality and entertainment. I had a great time for a while, but quickly realized that i could do better by running an escort service, rather than actually doing the hard work (hehe). So, within a few weeks, my friend Anna and I started an escort service (Anna Andalso is on the Board of DDE and is my oldest and dearest friend in SL - and a constant source of advice and grounding). We bought some land (which was really the only personal money i ever put into SL), built a nice place, and got the business going. It was pretty successful, and with the profits, I kept adding to the land i owned on that sim. I was so excited with each 1024 plot that i bought!

At first, it was to build an apartment building to house the escorts, and later, to add a mall and a larger apartment complex, followed by renting out some land for other buinsesses to set themselves up. I've realized since then that it doesn't matter to me so much WHAT the business is, as much as just building or creating something, be it a 10x10 building, or a large real-estate company. I realized early on that what was the most fun for me was helping people to build their dreams. I know that sounds incredibly corny, and maybe even fake, but I honestly got a lot more satisfaction out of helping someone get the means to build up a successful business, or even just learn the ropes in SL, than I ever have out of making high profits. Of course, that's fun too - hehehe.

Those two things - helping people, and building/creating something, have driven everything i have done in Second Life since then. I've heard other people say similar things in posts in various places (like another of our WSE CEO's who has posted on this blog recently - wink), and it really resonated with me. I kinda hesitated ever posting this, because it SO sounds like marketing for Delicious, but then i figured, wtf, it's my blog.

Early in my SLife, I was lied to and cheated by some people that I thought were my friends, and by some other people that I didn't even know. The experience was far more painful than i ever thought it would be - I guess i get personally offended when people are assholes... It made me promise that I would never make anyone else feel like that in here. So, although it was awful, it really centred me, and made me know how I would behave in my dealings in SL. I am no angel, that is for sure, and I have made my share of mistakes, and contributed to my share of SL drama. Hell, I'm of italian descent!!!

I guess this whole post is a little immodest, but the context is important for what I REALLY wanted to get to with this post. lmao. I have really tried to do right by people in SL, especially since I went onto the WSE. I really take it as a serious responsibility to steward other people's money. I could never have achieved a lot of the business success I have in recent months without the resources they gave me - both in terms of money, and in terms of advice, teaching, and direction. As well as some healthy competition - which gets me motivated! And, the bottom line is, my reputation is important to me.

But I will be honest with you, I have watched with dismay over the last few months, as other business owners in SL (all over SL - not just on the WSE), have shit on their investors and basically stolen their money in order to... idk... make themselves feel important? get rich? play a game? I mean, the Ginko thing - geeeeeze. The pathetic final announcements from Ginko, in which they basically said, "I was just a kid! I never thought it would go this far! Oops. oh, and sorry for the millions you all lost. my bad." and others before that - Montana Ryder just basically stealing everyone's money and disappearing from SL. other companies that have been really happy to take the IPO money, and then slowly orphan their company on the SL, without the decency to even post an announcement EVER. i have to say here - props to LukeConnell for setting up the WTF to at least do SOMETHING to compensate people for the losses suffered at the hands of these thieves.

It is disheartening. It makes me wonder why I bother. I mean if the norms of behaviour are amoral (even immoral), why on earth do I cling to some stupid set of ethics about what I will and won't do? It makes me feel like a sucker - watching people getting rich and having NO consequences. Part of me wants to just jump on the bandwagon, take the money and run. Part of me wants to just quit and stop swimming against the current.

Fortunately, I put that part of myself in a cage, and don't let it out very often, except maybe to vent occasionally to pablo, Kejo, or anna. and now - to you! I remind myself of how i felt every time i got screwed (and not in the fun way!). I remind myself of why I like SL, and what is important for me. All that stuff I said up above. I guess in the end, I could simply not live with myself if I did what these unscrupulous people have done. Dammit!!! lmao.

In the end, we are left with ourselves in those quiet moments, right? and I don't want to spend my quiet moments alone with an asshole...

/me shrugs.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

The World Stock Exchange

Where to start.... Hmmmm.

Well, for anyone who doesn't already know it, the World Stock Exchange is a virtual stock exchange in Second Life, that currently lists 62 companies, including two of my own: Delicious Demar Enterprises (DDE) and Delicious Skins (DSE). Investors can buy into a company that is seeking to raise capital by purchasing shares during the Initial Public Offering, and once the company goes public, can trade shares through the WSE website (http://www.wselive.com/).

The WSE started about 7 months ago, and has certainly had its shares of ups and downs, all well documented throughout the extended metaverse of Second Life, in blogs and forums, announcements on the WSE, etc. etc. I certainly don't intend to rehash any of the history of the last 7 months. Google it. lol DDE was listed in a bout the 3rd week of WSE's existence.

The founder and CEO of the WSE is a man named Luke Connell, aka Lukeconnell Vandeverre. Now, I want to state for the record that I have a great deal of respect for Luke - he is a visionary that, while others talked, acted. He may not always do things the best way, but at least he has DONE something, which many others have tried to duplicate. So, if i bash the WSE, please take it in that context. DDE and DSE are committed to the WSE, so any negative comments should be seen more as the infighting of a (possibly dysfunctional) family, rather than a condemnation of Luke or the WSE. I may not always like what happens there, but we are going to ride it out, no matter what it may be. Of course, a girl's entitled to her opinion, nontheless... hehehe

My first rant, therefore, about WSE has to do with the new Analyst functionality. I have read most of the reports that have been posted on the WSE by their analysts, and just wanted to make a few observations:

[/begin rant]

1. wtf?

2. Can you say "inconsistent"?? The reports, and the analysts approaches to them, are wildly inconsistent. A few have been thoughtful and well researched - quoting key metrics and showing an obvious familiarity with the companies in question (i.e. the analyst actually talked to the company CEO before doing their report). And of course, Casper's report on DDE is a masterpiece (LMAO). But since there are no guidelines and no moderation of these reports, we have seen some companies getting reports out of left field, based seemingly on nothing but opinion and speculation. Note I say "nothing but opinion". Obviously, analysts have to form an opinion about the company to make a recommendation. But wtf is it based on?? From some of the reports posted, I have no idea...

3. Can you say "conflict of interest"?? How on earth is it reasonable to have analysts making reports on a company, when they have a vested interest in either its success or failure?? Analysts who hold shares in a company should NEVER be allowed to analyse them. Analysts who are CEO's of competing businesses should NEVER be allowed to analyse the. Analysts who have new companies in IPO or secondaries out, should NEVER be allowed to analsye ANY company (sorry Lindsay...) Follow the logic here - and note that i am NOT saying that any of this was a motivation for any specific report, but in something like this, the appearance of a potential conflict of interest should be enough to give an analyst pause.

WSE has market liquidity problems - we all know this. There simply aren't enough investors and enough Lindens to support 62 companies, and the 4 million new ones that are seeking to go public. In Lindsay Druarts report on SIM (ok - full disclosure, I am on the Board of SIM and DDE/SIM have a joint venture underway - so I am biased, ok!), she basically topedoed a new startup company (3 months old), and gave them a strong sell recommendation. In addition, she suggeted that the CEO consider one shareholder's suggestion that SIM liquidate and provide a final dividend to shareholders and delist. Huh???? SIM is one of the few companies that actually have assets roughly equal to their market capitalization. There are dozens of companies on the WSE that have NO assets, and huge market capitalization, so I just don't get it.

On the other hand, if SIM provides a liquidation dividend, suddenly there are 1.5m Lindens available for investing in other companies or IPO's. Hmmmm. Like I say, I don't think this was really Lindsay's motivation, but she really should have thought through the wisdom of analysing a company a) that is a direct competitor, and b) whose delisting could potentially benefit CEO's with outstanding IPO's.

In the end, this is NOT the analysts fault. They were apparently given no guidelines, or set of principles, on which to base their analyses, so the fault lies with the WSE. The has to be a Code of Ethics and/or guiding principles for analysts. We just saw yesterday one company that DELISTED from the WSE in large part because of a brutal report by one of the analysts - because they decided they could not recover from that kind of negative press. Is this helping the WSE??

So, bottom line, I support the implementation of analyst reports. But Luke, slow the fuck down and think through what you are doing, before you do it!! You can't keep hitting the "Go Live" button with new functionality without talking to your community and thinking through its likely effects.

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Welcome to my Mind

Frightening thought, i know...

I have been thinking for a long time about starting a blog about Second Life. Not so much because I think that anyone will really care what I have to say about anything (lol), but because I have felt the need building up to speak out about things, to get my thoughts down in writing, about some of the things that are going on with SL, with me, my SLife, my business dealings, etc. I tend to be careful about what I say, and who I say it to, and I always try to be fair and reasoned on anything i say publically, and I have never quite found the right forum to express myself.

I am a pretty honest, blunt person, and I have my opinions. I intend to use the blog to post my musings, thoughts, opinions, rants, and random observations on a number of topics: the World Stock Exchange, business and economy, content creation, updates on DDE and DSE, SL relationships, life in general, and whatever else is occupying my mind at any given time.

I won't hold back in this blog. There's no point in blogging if it isn't going to be from the heart. So, I apologize in advance to anyone that I offend, insult, or irritate. Please feel free to post a scathing response. When I post on the WSE, for example, I try to be very objective and reasoned, and dare I say it, professional. I make no such promise for the blog. It will likely be full of inconsistencies, silliness, maybe pettiness, and even the occasional profanity (hehe). I may well stray into mature subjects, if they capture my attention, so don't expect the same kind of "business" language that I use in other places.

There are a few things that I won't do. I won't edit comments, but if they are totally profane, I might remove them. I won't paste inworld conversation threads. I won't use the blog as a platform for gratuitous personal attacks against individuals (although I don't promise that there won't be some collateral damage as i spew). I won't use the blog to blatantly promote my own products and services, but I may use it to post news and announcements. And I won't talk a lot about real life, except insofar as it affects my actions and feelings about SL. SL is an escape, and has been an opportunity to recreate myself to some degree. Oh, I am still ME. Just more so. lol

So, welcome. I hope that a few people read the blog, and find something of value in it, and I encourage anyone who does to leave a reply whether to completely disagree with me and tell me I am an idiot, give me advice, make their own observations, or whatever.

Have fun.

And remember, it's "only a game" bwahahahahaha...