The following is a slightly moddified version of a post I made on the SL Exchange Forums this morning... It's not very positive - but it is from the heart. lol I was commenting on a post about the stock exchanges, and was reflecting on the whole "financial sector" of SL.
The whole series of financial fiascoes in SL in the last year are all predicated on one thing. Greed.
Self-appointed bigshots and experts have fueled the greed by promising big returns only to disappear into thin air. Investors, with dollar signs in their eyes - were eager to believe the lines that they were being fed, while the scammers rubbed their hands in glee at the investors' gullibility. People invested their money, expecting to make easy returns on a house of cards, ponzi scheme, or fly-by-night "investment fund".
Worse than that, individuals with no skills or credentials convinced thousands of others to invest millions of Lindens, all with the promise of huge returns - followed by the inevitable failure of the business, because the person running it was a 19 year old high school drop out who knew nothing except how to spin a good line.
Now - sure there are honest people in the SL financial world, and it isn't fair to throw everyone under the bus because of the actions of some. It isn't fair, but it is totally understandable. And some of the honest fund operators have found themselves turfed and missing a large chunk of their assets.
To say that I have become disillusioned about the whole "financial sector" in SL would be an understatement. I got involved in the WSE early on, to learn, to have fun, and to take on the challenge of running a virtual company, to see if I could make it profitable. maybe I got caught up in the greed as well - i certainly raised a lot of Lindens to expand the business and was able to go from a small land company to a much bigger one using other people's money. I saw an opportunity to grow much faster than I could do alone, and I took it. I was full of pride at how many people were willing to throw their Lindens at me - and I started to think of myself as a "CEO" - a bigshot! Hell, I must be - lookit all these people that think I am so amazing and want to give me their money! But I always worked hard to learn what i had to learn and do what i had to do.
In my naiveté, I thought that everyone was doing it in good faith, and I took on the responsibility of accepting other peoples' money in trust to grow the business. It is a responsibility that i took, and take, seriously. I have tried to be fair and honest when I have done anything in SL, from the beginning to now. It's up to others to decide if I have succeeded or not. But I almost fell into that terrible trap of greed and pride - and I started to believe my own press!
Meanwhile, I watched other business owners cut and run with the money they raised, and was infuriated. Watching the back room deals, and the dishonesty, and the chest-thumping and posturing, made me both laugh and cry at the same time. This wasn't a WSE phenomenon - it was everywhere in SL - the banks, the ponzis, the funds. gah.
As an investor in the WSE, quite aside from my own business, I have been betrayed by people I considered friends, starting back with Montana Ryder, who ran off last summer. Next was Kejo Merlin, who bolted in the fall with thousands of dollars of other peoples' money, including a substantial amount of mine. There have been others since - with my investments vanishing in a puff of smoke. I am left with a pantload of WTF shares, and an aching heart when I think about the betrayal. The worst part about it is that I wasn't even investing in them to make money - I believed in them and wanted to see them succeed, and I thought they were dynamic, ethical people that would make good on their promises. I am a sucker that way.
I have always been one of the most vocal supporters of the WSE - I felt a sense of loyalty to the organization that made it possible for my little land business to have whatever success it has had. I have always wanted to try to assure people that there ARE honest people that are involved in the exchanges - lots of them. I wanted to see the WSE succeed.
And when the WSE reopens (which it will), I still really hope it succeeds, because there are still some good honest people that are involved there, that just want to make something out of their ideas and hard work. not everyone to be sure, but many. They don't deserve to be cast aside.
But I won't be one of the people on the WSE train - now that I have delisted the company and have decided to manage all of the investors personally. This was done as a matter of conscience, in light of my own beliefs and plans for the future. I could have stayed on the WSE and probably done really well. But I couldn't.
I will continue to run the business in order to make sure that anyone who gave me their money during my time at WSE gets it back, with a healthy profit. But the magic has gone out of it - it's not as much fun any more. Swimming against the current is tiring. Sticking to your principles, when many around you are abandoning theirs, is tiring. It makes you feel stupid - like a sucker. When my responsibilities are discharged, I might wind it all down, and do something else entirely - idk. At this point I am just enjoying the freedom of being in control again - being able to work directly with my shareholders to figure out how to proceed.
I guess I just sound like a whiny bitch at this point - I know that I have nobody to blame but myself for my disillusionment, and that whatever I have done, I have done with eyes wide open. And in the end, I have been successful, have had a great time, most of the time, and really have no reason to complain. But the greed and avarice of many of the people that have coopted the financial scene in SL is disheartening, and they have made it hard for me to trust anyone at all. I am not slamming any of the exchanges - I don't know much about them other than WSE. But I have decided to trust the one person that I know I can rely on. Me.