With the WSE set to reopen in a few days (I am officially holding my breath...), I have started to make a few posts on relevant forums about my thoughts on the WSE and its impending reopening. The following has been posted on both Your2ndPlace as a comment to a Konner McDonnell post, and on the SL Exchange forums...
Do with it what you will... Comments are welcome.
I say the following somewhat sheepishly - I was one of the business owners that was listed on the WSE for a year until March of this year, and while I was listed there, I was a supporter of the exchange and what it was trying to accomplish. My own experience there was overall a good one - I was able to use the exchange the way it had been intended - to raise money to expand my business, and was always able to provide an excellent return to investors. But I have to say, that I now regret ever having my name associated with the WSE, and in particular the owner, Luke Connell. I delisted in March and have been dealing with the investors privately, and it has all worked out well - the transition was a good one, and the people who invested in my company are being treated well and seem satisfied.
I saw some of the shenanigans going on around me with other companies and with the owner of the WSE, but (I am somewhat ashamed to say) was willing to turn a blind eye to them because they did not affect my company directly, and because as I say, there WERE some good honest people there.
I think we have to be careful to separate the owner of the WSE from the businesses that were, and still are, listed there - some of which are operated by some wonderful, establishes, respectable people.
In February of this year, in response to the decision by the WSE to do away with Lindens and implement their own currency, and in light of the terrible lack of communication that was forthcoming from Luke about his plans and the fate of the WSE, another biz-owner and I organized a meeting of a number of listed company "CEO's", to discuss the issues and present a united front to Luke about our concerns. We had one meeting during which we aired our concerns to each other, and a number of CEO's (myself among them) stated their intention to have some kind of answer from Luke about his plans, or to take further action to protect themselves and their companies.
Within a matter of hours, the transcript of this meeting was sent to Luke, (must have been by one of the participants...) and within a few days, a number of companies were involuntarily delisted, and their assets (cash and shares in other companies) were confiscated by the WSE. Their accounts were locked (as was mine for a time), and they were not even provided with a list of shareholders from which to work. Millions of Lindens worth of assets changed hands from the company CEO's to Luke.
My company was left alone - and I am just cynical enough to believe that it was because it had only modest assets that could be seized - all of my land was of course owned by my account, not the WSE. It may have just been because I was less mercurial than some and chose my words more carefully. I had a long discussion with Luke about the WSE and his plans, and in the end, I decided that I simply could not continue to participate in an organization that took these kinds of dictatorial and arbitrary actions.
I have always been careful about what I have said publicly about the WSE, both because there ARE still people I count as friends running companies there, and because I personally had over a million Lindens tied up in the WSE when it closed in January - a large chunk of cash i was planning to use for dividends, and a number of shares in companies there. Luke has a long history of simply canceling accounts and taking the assets in it if people speak out against the WSE - so I have had to be careful what I say.
But, I simply can't stand by and watch people get set to throw their money back into the WSE. It is likely that if I speak out, I will lose whatever I have in there - but at this point, I am not sure that it is ever going to be possible to get it out anyway, and frankly, I am willing to take the loss if it prevents other people from investing any serious money there. There is simply no way that Luke could open the WSE and afford to honor a cash-out of all the existing balances there. So I am assuming that there will be a period of moratorium on withdrawals (perhaps a couple of months), during which people can deposit money into their account, and trade with existing balances, but not take any out. I cannot believe that the WSE has any real money left after this long time, so that current balances are going to have to be covered by new deposits - which sounds a lot like a ponzi to me...
To echo the advice that has been given already by others - if you are planning to invest in the WSE, do it only as a game and not as an investment. There are no rules, no regulations, and to my mind, there is no honor at the WSE. Luke has a proven history of seizing other people's cash and other assets when he doesn't like what they have to say. I suspect that as a result of this post, and some others I intend to make, that I will suffer a similar fate soon.
If you want to put a few dollars into the WSE because the drama is funny, or you want to see how a mock market works, go for it. But if you are thinking that the WSE offers a realistic mechanism for making money on an investment, there is a long line of investors that have lost theirs shirts, waiting to disagree with you. There were a few people that have made money on the WSE, but I am convinced that it was mostly done with insider information, the use of alts to manipulate the market, and back-room deals.
So, yeah... I was one of WSE's biggest supporters for a long time, but it's time now, with the WSE set to reopen, to tell you all the hard (and somewhat humiliating) lessons that I learned on the inside.
The WSE is not to be trusted. If you are looking for a fast Linden, take your Lindens and put them in a Sploder - your chances of a return are much better.