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.

[/end rant]

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...