Vandeverre says: WSE not real. Not an investment. [updated]

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T. Nino|01.12.08

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Vandeverre says: WSE not real. Not an investment. [updated]

Obligatory pop-culture image referenceThe Metaverse Journal has an unedited interview with LukeConnell Vandeverre, owner of the - as he puts it - fictional World Stock Exchange. In it, Vandeverre asserts repeatedly and firmly that the WSE is a game, and nothing more, and that no real profit is available through the WSE.

"[I]t is not real, holds no real value and it is not an investment and does not provide investment opportunities." - Vandeverre.

The interview is full of contradictions. Vandeverre appears to claim that the 'fictional' currencies have value in the real world, albeit indirectly, and then reverses course and appears to claim that they don't.

He switches definitions so many times during the interview that it's enough to make your head spin.

The opening paragraph of an announcement on the World Stock Exchange website gave us some pause. It's dated December 19, and is about a bond issue from Hope Capital Limited.

On the 2nd of August 2007 Hope Capital Ltd issued 50,000 bonds at face value of L$100.00 each and a maturity term of 12 months in order to raise fictional currency that would be "used to drive a large worldwide marketing campaign for the World Stock Exchange that is an integral part of our growth strategy." (our emphasis)

Are these legal shenanigans or an oxymoron?

Actually, we're thinking that they're both. Aside from being completely contradictory, it seems to pretty much be a general ass-covering move, as you so often get in business.

Vandeverre, takes great pains to disclaim any reality in his business - carefully using the word fictional (which he apparently has linked to this definition "Fiction is the telling of stories which are not entirely based upon facts"). The word 'fictional' started creeping into WSE materials and statements a few months ago, and has been becoming increasingly prevalent.

Certainly the term "fictional service" as it is used by Vandeverre is semantically null. A fictional service is not a service, right? As for Vandeverre's use of the term "fictional currency" to describe the Linden Dollar, that's a clear blunder.

Linden Dollars are able to be (and routinely are) exchanged for (a) recognized government issue legal tender, (b) physical goods, and (c) actual services, notwithstanding their use within Second Life for virtual goods. The Linden Dollar satisfies the basic definition of currency in a way that Monopoly money and other game tokens do not. In fact, Hope Capital Limited relies on the Linden Dollar's use as a real currency to raise funds for real-world advertising by the sale of bonds in Linden Dollars.

So what if a Linden Dollar has to be converted into your local currency before you can pay a phone bill, or buy food with it? The same would hold true if you were dealing with US Dollars, British Pounds or Euros. We get paid in all of these currencies (as well as in Linden Dollars) and all have to be converted to our respective local currencies before they put bread on our tables.

Previously, Vandeverre averred that he paid taxes on Linden Dollar sums he received. Now he says they're fictional and not taxable, despite the Australian Tax Office (ATO) saying that they are taxable. Vandeverre denies this, "firstly ASIC made no official statement and neither has the tax department. ... The ATO will only tax real life income from real currency."

The ATO actually says, "The real world value of a transaction may form part of your taxable income, even if it is in Linden dollars." - That's not even close to the same thing as only taxing 'real life income from real currency'.

Either Vandeverre's statement is intentionally false, or unintentionally false. Either way, it doesn't engender a lot of confidence in the man, or in the game (his term) that he's playing.

Vandeverre's assertion is that the WSE is fictional, a fake, not real, not an investment and does not provide an investment opportunity.

There, at least, we here at Massively find ourselves in complete agreement with Vandeverre. Of course, using it as if you were actually able to make money (which you certainly can) or to finance a business venture (which you also certainly can, and which Hope Capital Limited certainly announced they intend to), would appear to open users of the service to legal liability - which appears to be reinforced by WSE's Terms of Service. That is even though these sorts of profit-making appear to be the primary use of the WSE.

According to those same terms of service, WSE may choose to act as it pleases with any fictional currencies, or accounts or data within their system. Because, it's a game, right? Vandeverre says there's no value involved.

Nobody Fugazi at Your Second Place says that he has received word from multiple sources that Vandeverre is planning to delist anyone who speaks ill of the WSE (actions that would be well within the WSE Terms of Service).

{Update - this appears to be confirmed:

[2008/01/11 19:57] LukeConnell Vandeverre: If you are making public statements that are negative towards the WSE and counter-productive towards the WSE's objectives then your business will be delisted

-- Source, Lindsay Druart }

Go and read Vandeverre's interview at the Metaverse Journal, and then make up your own mind as to whether you trust the WSE with your business and money err with your role-playing and game-tokens, sorry.

In the end, it's all about trust, isn't it? Do you, or don't you?

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