Saturday, September 12, 2009

Real Estate Business Booming Again

In the last two days we have seen an enormous surge in the Real Estate business with thousands of new appartment blocks, parks and businesses being commisioned and built. It's not that the credit crunch is suddenly over, no it's the birth of Monopoly City Streets.

Monopoly City Streets is a flash based online game based on the legendary Monopoly board game we all used to play when we were kids, but immensely upscaled. Instead of the board Hasbro now uses Google Maps and you are able to build everywhere we like.

It's been two days since the launch of Monopoly City Streets, on 09-09, and I got online yesterday to check it out. Basic gameplay is quite easy: You get a stash of M 3,000,000 and you start clicking away. Buy streets and build houses to earn rent. The more streets you have connected, and the more densely populated the area is, the higher the income you get from rents.

I picked out a little old town in the Netherlands to start my real estate empire. I've bought a few streets and a couple of houses to get going and collect my rents. Basically, the game is turn based and gets updated daily. After my first day I was able to triple my networth from 3M to 9M.

As with the board game, you have chance cards; some for good, some for bad. With the chance cards you will be able to build bonus buildings, like sewers and plants that kill rents on a street, or parks and stadiums that will prevent others from placing sewers and plants on your streets.

Cheating

When looking at the world rankings you see that only after a 4 days of gameplay there are people with a networth over 2 billion, so the first question that comes to mind is: How to cheat? You are able to make bids on streets owned by other players. The minimum bid you have to do is the current value of the street, so it's not possible to create multiple accounts and sell good real estate for peanuts... but, the other way around probably does work: Create multiple accounts and offer 3 million M's for a street worth 100K for instance, feeding the main account with tons of money, and I think this is what's happening. It's impossible to go from 3M to 2B in 4 days.

Top accounts are obviously the most obvious candidates to target with sewers and plants. If you receive a bonuscard to build a plant, just build it on the street of a big spender in your region so he won't get income from these streets.

Big Cities

If you start building, you obviously want to be a big real estate tycoon at a top location. Forget it. Cities like New York, Paris, Barcelona and Amsterdam are already taken. Well, not all streets are sold yet, but it is getting pretty crowded here. Below you'll see an overview of New York and Paris, with a detailed shot of both as well.



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Monday, March 23, 2009

Internet to shatter advertising business

My basic premise is that the internet is not replacing advertising but shattering it, and all the king’s horses, all the king’s men, and all the creative talent of Madison Avenue cannot put it together again. To analyze this statement we need a working definition of advertising, and I proposed the following, which is as general as I could make it:

Advertising is using sponsored commercial messages to build a brand and laying to locate these messages where they will be observed by potential customers performing other activities; these messages describe a product or service, its price or fundamental attributes, where it can be found, its explicit advantages, or the implicit benefits from its use.

It is frequently argued that the advertising industry will provide sufficient innovation to replace the loss of traditional ads on traditional mass media. Again, my basic premise rejects this, suggesting that simple commercial messages, pushed through whatever medium, in order to reach a potential customer who is in the middle of doing something else, will fail. It’s not that we no longer need information to initiate or to complete a transaction; rather, we will no longer need advertising to obtain that information. We will see the information we want, when we want it, from sources that we trust more than paid advertising. We will find out what we need to know, when we want to make a commercial transaction of any kind. The conventional wisdom is that this is exactly what paid search helps us to do, but all too often they are nothing more than a form of misdirection, as I explain further below. Instead, we will use information that we trust, obtained at the time that we want to see it.

Read the rest of this very interesting article at TechCrunch.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Dear IT Leadership: Please Lead

The twittersphere just tweeted an interesting blogpost to me, a cry for thoughtleadership and IT Governance by Reid Carlberg on the Model Metrics blog

Dear IT Leadership,

Today, your business needs you more than ever. The economy is weakening. Competition is intense.. You’ve helped it navigate technologies for years. But the business has immensely complex new challenges today. It needs your help to operate more efficiently. It needs your help to innovate in new ways.

In short – they need you to lead – but they need you to lead differently. They need you to lead them through radical change. What do I mean?

What does Reid Carlberg mean? Read the full article here.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Credit Crunch key to future of Social Networks

A variety of newsfeeds on different topics was poured onto me today, through various media. Snippets I picked up on the radio, television, conference calls at work, twitter feeds etcetera. The mashup my brain made led to an interesting thought (I think) on how the credit crunch and recession will affect social networking, for better or worse.

Primarily old media are pouring out negative news on the crisis, credit crunch effects and recession worldwide. I bet you can't get away from the news either. Most of my social networks barely mention it, except for the occasional twitter / friendfeed / blog rant of Scobleizer. Why don't they? Is it because they are all new start ups, dependant on Venture Capital and VC might be the first thing to save money on?

I think not. I'm beginning to think the credit crunch and social networks are totally incompatible entities. They just don't mix.

Business is going Social ?

Let's start with social networking. Throughout the day I've been working on collaboration platforms and how to implement social software inside companies. When you're working at a company which is 'considering' to go social, you know the hassle. It often fails as corporate structures are incompatible with the social networking way of life; not bound by corporate hyrarchy but organic. Corporations still have the idea to implement communities through a top-down decree.

One of the articles I read today which touches this subject is a report by McKinsey, titled "Six ways to make Web 2.0 work for companies" (Thanks to @AlexKaris). Another quote that triggered me was from the presentation by Cisco's CEO John Chambers at the MIT World. I found his speech at OpenZine in an article called "Business is Social"

John Chambers held this speech at the MIT World back in october last year.


At about 3.00 minutes into the video John says:

"And when you look at the future of companies, I think you are about to see the most fundamental change in businesses and governement on a global basis that you have ever seen, moving from command and control to collaboration and team work"

Will we see this change, or won't we see this change? Everybody is talking about it, but will it happen? In reflection today, the credit crunch will play a crucial role in this process.

The Anglo Saxon business Model

Switching to old school media, one of the stories I heard on the radio was a Dutchmen who lived in Japan talking about business models. The Asian businessmodel looked very similar to our Dutch "Rhineland" model, or negatively connotated "the polder model". He gave a few examples.

The example from Japan was the CEO of Japan Airlines who had to take drastic steps in his company. As a result, he himself took a huge payment cut and came to work by bus to give a good example to his employees. This relates to the attitude we have had for many years inside the Netherlands, where you expected your CEO to come to work by bycicle and have lunch with all his employees in the canteen, bringing the same ham and cheese sandwhiches from home as his employees did. In both these models, the company is the center of the attention. It is about stability, security. It is about the role the company has in a social environment, limited to its employees, or in a broader sense to the city or other communities.

This is very unlike the Anglo Saxon model in which the shareholder has become the center of attention, the model which originated in the United States and the UK. This model is about short term satisfaction and profits. During the 90's we, in the Netherlands, have adopted this model too, and CEO's get filthy rich. This model results in corporate leaders who take enormous risks to gain short term profits and shareholder approval.

Crunch to make or break Social Networks

Don't get me wrong, John Chambers is saying a lot of sensible things on how corporations should act during a recession, and how innovation is important during these troubled times. However, if we "are to see the most fundamental change in businesses and government" it will be the challenge to do so on a business model scale. Yes, there are companies out there -even in the United States - who are able to adapt to web 2.0, but the majority will fail due to the business models described above.

Worldwide, companies sense the need to go social again. They feel the need to do something with social networking in order to leverage the latent potential inside their companies, to gain a stronger commitment from their employees, to facilitate knowledge exchange or simply to boast about their tech-savvyness.

The Anglo Saxon business model focus on shareholders and short term profits might just be the key issue to the future of social networks. It blocks long term commitment to a community and it causes corporate leaders to cling to their position. Managers and CEO's are protecting their little kingdoms, their expertise, their budget and their staff to remain in control. This is corporate politics on the balance of power, fueled by hunger for a big bonus and shareholder approval. This is where the fundamental change has to start to really empower Business 2.0, to facilitate corporations going social and capitalize on the billions of dollars of VC funding which have been invested into social networking sites. This is where the fundamental change has to start to temper the recession and this is where the fundamental change has to start to create long lasting communities and receive employee commitment.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

World Economy Crash

These days you might be willing to be everything but a bank, or at least stay away as far as possible from anything just remotely looking like money. The world is in bad shape as it is with the credit crunch and the recession taking its toll, but I am noticing a rise in bad tidings as well.

Security Plan leak

Todays latest news is that the security plans for the renovated Dutch Ministry of Finance have accidentaly thrown out with the garbage in december. The plans contain checklists of camerapositions and many more details. (source Nu.nl)

Credit Leak

Earlier this week, on tuesday, Ars Technica reported that millions of US Credit Card details may have fallen into the wrong hands.

...payment processor Heartland Payment Systems has potentially leaked up to 100 million credit and debit accounts into the black market. That number, if verified, would make this the largest data breach on record. It also means the United States has managed to set two national records in the same day. Guess which one folks are paying attention to? Awful convenient, that.

The giant leak may have been a result of a malware infestation, but according to the Ars Technica report, Heartland doesn't really know what really happened. That's hopefull (not!)

Russians launching attack on Dutch Internet Banking System

Another troublesome newsitem was Nu.nl reporting that the Russians are planning an attack on the Dutch Internet Banking system last monday.

According to the article Russian gangs would be increasing their activity in the Netherlands and other European countries according to Ultrascan, a financial research institute.

Ultrascan says the criminals are looking for ways to hack the banks systems, already probing the ABN Amro Wincor Nixdorf cash registers and are installing skimming software all over Europe as well as having developed software to launch an all out out attack on Internet Banking. According to the research institute the current operations appear to be unprecedented and urge banks to take precautionary measures.

Amidst a credit crunch and a recession where we see thousands of jobs disappear and billions of dollars evaporate due to bad banking, it is extremely sad to see leaks and security breeches on top of that. Our money is melting fast, too fast to handle for some. Maybe it's time to reconsider the gold standard?


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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Credit Crunch speeds new media revolution

It's time for Change was the slogan used by Barack Obama in his election campaign. And indeed the winds of change are shaking the dust world wide in the wake of the Credit Crunch. Not the change desired by Obama, but change it is. 24/7 Wall Street reports that at least 12 major US newspapers are set for closure in the coming months.

No one working in the media industry will ever have seen a year as bad as 2009 will be. The sharp slide in advertising began in 2008, and, based on the worsening economy, there is no reason to think that advertising will improve. Most Wall St. analysts have predicted a harsh year for the ad business. If the downturn deepens and unemployment rises above 10% most predictions about media, no matter how negative, will have been unexpectedly optimistic.

The outlook might not be this grim here in the Netherlands, but newspapers are having a hard time over here too. Just yesterday I blogged on how Google should compensate it's CO2 emission and touched the subject of lack of innovation in the american automotive industry. I guess this pretty much is the same story.

Traditional newspaper have stayed traditional. Most of the people working at newspapers are old timers, senior reporters and editors who have grown up with the traditional printing press and have switched to digital offset without really changing their process. Currently I see a lot of traditional publishers in the Netherlands clinging on to their outdated ways, trying to get a little bite of the mobile news market and a little bite of the online marketing chunk without wanting to change their own ways. This is lack of innovation.

The credit crunch might be a blessing to shake that old tree (and save a rainforest in the proces) and force the old newspaper industry to innovate. The world of news and information has changed with the arrivel of web 2.0, called the social web, or conversational web by others. The most heard argument in this case is that bloggers are not trained journalists and are living the fastlane without time to do thorough research and taking time to write indepth stories. Well, there are a few out there that prove you wrong. And if that's the case, why not skip daily newspapers and let the bloggers and televesion do the daily news and create more indepth research magazines?

Last year, the Sogeti research insitute, ViNT, published a book called "Me the Media" in which it describes 3 media revolutions:

  1. The First Media Revolution: type letters and printing press
  2. The Second Media Revolution: electronic mass media
  3. The Third Media Revolution: web media

On the website you'll find excerpts of the book in English. A complete English version will be published sometime februari / march. I'll keep you posted.

The industry has grown with the first revolution and survived the second, but now is crumbling under the onslaught of this third media revolution. It was bound to happen sooner or later, the crunch is just the final push to speed up this third media revolution. It neither is Obama nor the Credit Crunch but a driving force called innovation that is bringing about these winds of change.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Ballmer: It's time to strike a deal with Yahoo


If there has to be made a deal between Microsoft and Yahoo, now is the time according to Steve Ballmer. The Microsoft CEO who recently visited and commented on this blog sat down for a talk with the Financial Times yesterday to put the pressure back on the MicroHoo soap which started nearly a year ago.

Both companies are in a management transition phase these days. Microsoft hired Qi Lu, a former top gun at Yahoo to reposition their online business, whereas Yahoo is on the lookout for a new CEO after Jerry Yang stepped down. Ballmer said:

"If a search deal is to be made, it's probably to be made in the interim period for new leaders in both places."

The MicroHoo soap started last year with Microsoft placing a full take over bid. After that was dropped, a Search deal was worked out, but once more it failed. Now Steve Ballmer is putting the pressure back on. After the last deal fell through, Jerry Yang's position at Yahoo was severely compromised as Wall Street analysts have estimated that a deal could add more than $12bn to Yahoo's value. In hiring Qi Lu, Microsoft made a tactical move to pave the way for a new deal.

I've never regarded Microsoft to be tactical, but they're getting smarter. Ballmer's timing this week is impeccable as well. Yahoo is said to be closing in on a replacement for Jerry Yang, but closing in on them while Yahoo is without a strong leader and the current credit crunch sentiments is once again a smart move.

They have to get smarter, because Microsoft is no longer the leader of the pack. They've been moved into the underdog position against Google and Microsoft needs to make the online transition in order to survive. The internet is the frontier as more and more activity is done webbased. Everything is moving from home computing to cloud computing. In the near future, hardly any application will be run from a pc, nor will any file be stored on a pc. It will be webservers that run the show. In this outlook, Microsoft is losing a business case in Operating Systems. It needs to step up their online activity. Microsoft and Yahoo will both loose the online war to Google if they remain independent.

You know what. Probably a year ago I would have written a very negative story on Microsoft. We still have a tendency to hate that money making machine to a certain extend, and we've all been cheering time and again as the European Committee fined Microsoft for gaining undisered monopoly positions on the market. That sentiment is slowly changing. Very slowly. More and more Google is crawling into that dominant position, although this dragon doesn't have a head to slay as Microsoft once had in the days of Bill Gates.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

How to crack online banking

It's time to check your bank if you are banking online. With a bit of bad luck, it isn't safe anymore. Last week I ran into an article on Dutch Tech Magazine Emerce on a security breach in SSL.

SSL Certificate Security Breach

To most people, SSL sounds like a privacy guarantee on the web. Sites like webshops and banks have a secure connection to the internet and have an SSL certificate issued by a CA (Certification Authority) like Verisign or DigiNotar. Hoewever, a team of researchers from the Dutch University of Eindhoven, the CWI (Center of Mathematics and Computer Science), EPEL in Switzerland and independent researchers from California have discovered how to crack the code. They discovered

...that one of the standard cryptographic algorithms, which is used to check digital certificates is subject to abuse. The algorithm in question is the MD5 algorithm. Malicious persons may create a file with a digital signature which is trusted by all major web browsers. The researchers made this use of advanced mathematics and a cluster of more than two hundred game computers.

and

The researchers discovered the security breach which, in combination with the known KAMINSKY vulnerability in the Domain Name System (DNS), can make it difficult to detect phishing attacks.

Crunching Fortis all the way.

In short, if your bank uses an MD5 based SSL certificate, your privacy may be compromised. A quick survey of the methods used by Dutch banks learns that most of them already use the SHA encryption. One of the few exceptions is the troubled Fortis Bank. Fortis is going to a lot of bad weather ever since the acquired (part of) the ABN Amro bank. They were the first Dutch bank to get in trouble due to the credit crunch and the Dutch and Belgian parts have been separated, the Dutch part being taken over by the Dutch Government. They also had to settle for nearly a billion dollar in the Dutch mortgage scandal and also lost about a billion in the Madoff fraud.

MD5 and SHA algorithms

To most of the digitally educated it has been clear for some time that the MD5 encryption in passwords for instance isn't the best practise on the web anymore and have moved over to the more secure SHA-2 and the upcoming SHA-3 encryption algorithms.

  • Read the original Emerce article in Dutch here.
  • Read the Google translation here.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Virtual Banking (18): Volksbank and Raiffeisenbank

Among the first countries to ditch Second Life last summer were Germany and Austria, where public opinion rapidly went from ecstatic to outright negative and focus was laid on the dark side of Second Life. But they're back. Slowly (very slowly), companies are coming back to Second Life. This time it's the German based Volksbank and Raiffeisenbank which opened up their virtual shop earlier this week, making it real world bank number 18 to immerse itself in Second Life.

Initially I thought this build was from the Austrian based Volksbank AG, or Volksbank Group, but that's a mixup. This presence is the German Volksbank, a cooperation of different local banks.

Volksbanken and Raiffeisenbanken with over 15,7 million members and 30 million customers, is a pillar of the German banking industry and a major force in the German economy. As the central organization of the cooperative banking group, the BVR (Bundesverband der Deutschen Volksbanken und Raiffeisenbanken), functions as a promoter of, representative for, and a strategic partner of its members. [bvr]

Aside from an apparent turn in public opinion, this new endeavor supprisingly comes at a time in which most financial institutions keep a lid on their expenditure and innovation budget due to the Credit Crunch.

The Volksbank comes in a double sim presence, first of which is the Orientantion Island and the second one is the main sim. The main sim holds the VR Marktplatz (market) and VR Finanzlounge (finance lounge), which is built like a typical smalltown city center.


The Volksbank has a different approach to their presence than most other real life companies have, which is good. Most corporate sims are empty spaces, with only their own private little corporate build. Alongside the marketplace however, we find various shops, inworld, Second Life based boutiques. Also the Volksbank has set up a Real Estate agent at the corner of the marketplace, which offers building tips for building in Second Life. I think this is a very good crossover, as real estate products and real estate financing are closely tied in with the core products of a bank.




While exploring the sim I ran into two Volksbank teammembers, Alexander Auerbach and teamleader Pedro Barbosa, who kindly gave me some background information. The Volksbank presense is mainly a research project which is not directly focussed on doing actual banking business in Second Life, but in getting in touch with their clients. They want to collect experience which can help them improve their services and consultancy. They do want to find out though how far one can go in 'vermittlung', consultancy in an environment like this.

Their Second Life presence will a place to meet new customers, but since finance is a very private business, follow ups will have to be done the old fashioned way, with visits to your local bank. The lack of privacy was also one of the reasons ABN Amro moved over to Active Worlds.

They were quick to point out that the presence isn't finished yet, and were still working on filling in some details. The concept for the sim was made by people from GAD, a calculating center for banks and a member of the Volksbank cooperation. Also cooperative banks like the geno-verband Stuttgart and Rheinisch-Westfälischer Genossenschaftsverband participate in this build, which are both part of the Volksbank coop as well. The concept developed by GAD was checked with a Second Life agency though to see if it would hold up, but the build was entirely done with own employees.

Here's two promo videos about the Volksbank presense in Second Life:







SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/VR%20Land/114/19/24

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Friday, December 05, 2008

Saint not affected by Recession

Today is an early day home and time to spend with the family as in Holland we celebrate the birthday of Saint Nicholas, or Sinterklaas as we call him.

Saint Nicholas (270 - December 6, 346) is the common name for Nicholas of Myra, a Lycian saint and Bishop of Myra in Lycia of Anatolia (modern-day Antalya province, Turkey, though at the time it was a Greek-speaking Roman Province). Because of the many miracles attributed to his intercessions, he is also known as Saint Nicholas the Wonderworker. He had a reputation for secret gift-giving, such as putting coins in the shoes of those who left them out for him, and is now commonly identified with Santa Claus. Nicholas was never officially canonised; his reputation simply evolved among the faithful, as was the custom in his time. In 1087, his relics were furtively translated to Bari in southern Italy. For this reason, he is also known as Saint Nicholas of Bari. [wikipedia]

Santa Claus is primarily an American commercial concoction, which has nothing to do with Christmas and in the Netherlands we still prefer Sinterklaas as gift-machine over Santa Claus, which is quite fortunate as we have a half month headstart to predict how hard the credit crunch and recession really kicks in.

Well, rest assured ye merry gentlemen, nothing is wrong with the world. Sinterklaas sales have reached a record high again this year and prospects for Christmas sales are good too. Well, not entirely true, but the Saint doesn't seem touched by the turmoil of the credit crunch and recession.

For a little more background on Saint Nicholas, and how he became Santa and got screwed by Coca-Cola, check out the St. Nicholas Center website.

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

Pownce goes Bownce

I gues it's been a little more than a year now since I happily blogged the arrival of Pownce, a flashy new microblogging tool that would heat up competition for Twitter and Jaiku (before it got assimilated by Google).

I was quite excited when I got my invitation to the alpha version on the 1st of July last year and reviewed:

In my twittergroup it kinda hyped and everyone was screaming for invites. Why?
I think two reasons:

  1. One of the makers of Pownce is KevinRose (from Digg) and
  2. Robert Scoble (Scobleizer) is on it as well.

The early signs were promising, but over the weekend Pownce saw an onrush of new users resulting in scalability and stability problems. The slick looking Adobe AIR driven client crashed several times.

We're a year and a half onward now, and the curtain falls for Pownce. From December 15 on you'll get bounced on Pownce according to the short email notification I received:

We are sad to announce that Pownce is shutting down on December 15,2008. As of today, Pownce will no longer be accepting new users or newpro accounts.

To help with your transition, we have built an export tool so you cansave your content. You can find the export tool at Settings > Export. Please export your content by December 15, 2008, as the site will not be accessible after this date.

Please visit our new home to find out more:http://www.sixapart.com/pownce

Our thanks go out to everyone who contributed to the Pownce community,

The Pownce Crew

I still think it wins 99 out of a 100 times over Twitter when it comes to presentation and when it comes to functionality, I guess it may still beat the crap out of Twitter.

So when it tops Twitter, why did Six Apart tear it apart? Why did the curtain fall? Did the Credit Crunch, or Techcrunch, or whatever you want to call it dry up the wells of green and caused the bailout? Perhaps that may have been the final pushover, but let's face it. It lost competition to an inferior platform, just like Philips' Video 2000 and Sony's Betamax lost to the lousy VHS back in the 80's in a fierce format war.

Pownce wasn't stable yet, as the initial review showed. It crashed. But that isn't uncommon. I regularly get the message that the "Technorati monster escaped" or twitter hiccups. Seems like it comes as a standard feature of services like these. That didn't kill Pownce. It's the buzz that did, rather the lack off. I liked it better than Twitter, but rarely used Pownce simply because all my friends were on Twitter.

Twitter aleady had the crowd, and though better, it wasn't good enough to start another tiresome tribal migration from one community to the other and rebuild your contact list. Twitter is sustainable by sheer numbers only. Pownce would have needed an ecosystem to support it, a tie in with social networking sites in which is messaging capacities could be leveraged. It could have been done, as Six Apart is one of the prime ecosystem contributors for LinkedIn for example.

I guess that's settled than, one less account to worry about, one place that holds yet another part of my digital identity, my humoungous digital footprint down. Just hope they'll do erase their databases thoroughly and not use it for a new startup.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Sun goes bankrupt.

Sun inc, one of the leading companies focusing Second Life business in Japan goes bankrupt.

On Nov 16, Sun's CEO Okui was arrested for helping a lawyer go abroad. The lawyer, who seems to be the owner of Sun inc actually, was evading tax. Then a notice about bankrupcy was posted on Sun's website on Nov 21, stating Sun's negative networth is at least US$5 million.

Sun had released Second Life viewer for PC and mobile(Sun Inc Second Life Browser Viewer (Beta)), and was trying to built e-commerce platform called "Tokyo Zero" in Second Life(it enables users to buy real bags, clothing by Linden Dollars).



Sun's got funding from Acrodea(mobile solution provider), Hakuhodo DIY Mediapartners(agency), Fullcast Markting and Ngi(venture capital which is also the owner of 3Di inc).

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Crunch back with Visual CV

A Credit Crunch and recession do funny things with people. All of a sudden we are all looking for a new job. Well, I personally am not, but professional networking sites like LinkedIn report an increase of 25% in activity and new connections made.

On the other hand, Headhunters seem to turn down their activity a little. Over the past yerar I received at least two annoying calls a month, but it's been pretty quiet over the last two months. I guess it's pretty much a US thing to use LinkedIn for finding and hiring people, here in the Netherlands we kinda stick to old fashioned, not networked sites like Monsterboard or Nationale Vacaturebank.

Anyway, if you're looking out for a new job, you might want to check out a new startup called Visual CV. It opened up for beta in early 2008 and offers a whole range of cool features to pimp your resume with video presentations and so on.

"...VisualCV is a clever idea to update the traditional resume. It also allows applicants to stand out in the job market, and cuts out unnecessary steps (phone and in-person interviews) that make it more difficult for employers to see a body of work. Plus, it is entirely free..."

Read full article at Killer Startups.

One of the example resumes that stands out of course is the one of Barack Obama, the president elect of the United States of America. One slight comment, analysts say Barack is the first internet president, with all his neat web 2.0 ventures, like on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the Obama Blog. His resume is a little outdated though, it still states Presidential Candidate. However, a striking example of how leveraging the power of internet can help you get a new job.

Visual CV Barack Obama

One example down the road, we find the Visual CV of Torley Wong, better known as Torley Linden or @torley, neatly wedged in between Barack Obama and former Apple evangelist Guy Kawasaki in the "Influencer" category at Visual CV. Not sure if this is on the same level, but one could say Torley is the people's president of Second Life, or officially Resident Enlightenment Manager at Linden Lab.


Well, time to get out there and pimp that resume.It's easy to do, create then share.


Some more press coverage from early 2008:

"...New to this field is VisualCV. With an online resume at VisualCV, you can showcase your work in a visually appealing way. Although VisaulCV may sound like they're just jobster, version 2, take note - VisualCV already has 50 participating companies onboard receiving VisualCVs and their names may surprise you...

...VisualCV offers a unique feature that lets you track who views your profile after you've shared it, but unlike resumes you post on other job sites, VisualCV's members have more control over their resume's privacy - there are no backdoors for recruiters or marketers to access your resume..."

Read full article at Read Write Web.

VisualCV, a free service for individuals offered by a Reston, Va., start-up, lets job seekers create an online résumé that can include work samples, references' video testimonials and a visual for accomplishments, such as a chart showing surpassed sales targets...

Read full article at Wall Street Journal.

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Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Credit Crunch Crash Course for VW's

Amidst all the turmoil on the current Credit Crunch, twitterati Malburns pointed me to an excellent article from the Metanomics.

My social web life seems to go down the drain because of the banking crisis, which makes me work day and night covering the endless stories of banks going bust, regulators and politicians scrambling to save them, the doom and gloom spreading and making consumers and investors extremely nervous.

It makes me aware of the fact that connectedness has its idealistic, hopeful face, like one can experience in the online Connectivism course but also a more ugly face, of spammers, griefers, online communities which seem to deal in hatred and stupidity.

Relating this to virtual worlds, I think there are some interesting similarities between banking, society at large and virtual worlds and communities.

Banking is an activity which is extremely connected. Long before people started talking about web2.0, social networks or even the internet, finance professionals linked up all over the globe using telegraph, phone, spreading information through private networks or monitoring wire services such as Reuters.

Not only good ideas spread through those networks. Also toxic financial products, like repackaged dodgy loans, travel at the speed of light. Dubious financial practices originating in the US end up in Europe and Asia. Reckless over-leveraging in Europe affects Wall Street etc.

Read the full article here.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

When virtual money becomes a horrid reality

There's no denying trouble at the Dow, or any other Stock Exchange. Some even say the storm of the century is blazing across Wall Street. There's so much going on that even I felt the need to comment on it, even while I focus on Virtual Worlds.

Come to think of it, it isn't that farfetched as the NYSE guys and shortshellers didn't speculate with real money either. They've thought up a virtual capital, a virtual economy, uncovered wealth to push the market in the direction of real profit. Now speculating with this virtual wealth falls through and to many people it becomes a horrid reality as they run into credit or mortgage trouble, or might be fired in the coming months.

Techblogger Robert Scoble wrote an article called Economic Idiocy and at this point in time we may face Idiocy, maybe even frenzy, but at its core is something much darker: It is greed. A ‘little while ago” Descarte wrote: “Cogito Ergo Sum”, I think therefor I exist. In the past century -and especially in the USA -it has grown to I shop, therefor I am.

Marketing guru’s like Edward Bernays have found the triggers that make us buy things we don’t need, all to keep the economy running. Now throw in a bunch of greedy stockowners and shortsellers and you’ve got a volatile mix, focussed on short term profits. Profit is the main driver in our present economy. We lack long term vision and that’s what’s killing us now.

In our drive for profits and growth we have overextended ourselves. Where did sound economics go that said “Don’t buy if you can’t afford”? Instead we’ve invented credit card debt. We let go of the gold standard an have invented trillions of dollars of State Debt. We started speculating with money we don’t have.

Well, now we drop dead shopping. Back to thinking, looking at what we’re doing out there. What do we need, and why do we think we need more? Why do we desperately want to have a bigger car than our neighbours, or a bigger house than our colleagues. If you’ve done healthy financial management, didn’t overextend and are debt free, the storm will pass. Maybe we’ve got to accept the fact that in other cases it’s a dreadfull, yet necessary correction to our unbridled greed.

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Virtual Banking (17): Banca MPS

Banca MPS

Amidst all the turmoil on the financial markets I decided to see if there has been any chance in the status of a couple of banks I spotted a while ago in Second Life. The sim is called Banca MPS, which stands for Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SPA

"Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena SPA (MPS) is the oldest surviving bank in the world. Founded in 1472 by the Magistrate of the city state of Siena, Italy, it has been operating ever since. Today it consists of approximately 1,800 branches, 28,000 employees and 4.5 million customers in Italy, as well as branches and businesses abroad. A subsidiary, MPS Finance, handles consumer finance.

Its headquarters in the Palazzo Salimbeni in Siena are host to a magnificent art collection and a large number of priceless historical documents spanning the centuries of its existence. However, this collection is not usually open to the public" [wikipedia]

On the sim you see a complex of buildings, in which nothing much happens. I've spotted this sim about a year ago and the evolution has been slow. Yet the the detail on the buildings is pretty good.

As I couldn't get in, I couldn't explore the buildings. However, I could peek through the opened doors allowing me to get a view of classical Italian paintings. I suspect this is the collection Wikipedia refers to. If the Real Life collection is not usually open to visitors, giving them a free entrance in Second Life would probably be a good thing. So why not open up folks?

In the Netherlands, Banca MPS is primarily known for acquiring Banca Antonveneta from Grupo Santander late 2007, which took over a part of the Dutch ABN Amro Bank, which in its turn had just aquired Antonveneta, making it the first non-italian takeover in the industry in Italy

(Okay, this is a soap... ABN AMRO was taken over by a trio of banks, aside from Santander, these were Barclays and Fortis. The latter of which is now being rescued by Belgian, Dutch and Luxemburgh governments and there are talks of selling the ABN Amro part again at a severe loss, most likely to the Dutch ING or French BNP Parisbas).

SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Banca%20MPS/128/128/0

Banca Transylvania

The second bank on my list is Banca Transylvania, but this one is also closed for public. It has no neighbouring sims so I couldn't get any snapshots of that one. Hopefully someone can give me a few pointers.

SLURL http://slurl.com/secondlife/Banca%20Transylvania/128/128/0

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