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So how is business? The forums are really not such a good place to discuss this as there is too much free-floating hatred of "land barons" or enterprise in general (even by people who claim to be capitalists), and just too much willingness to sneer and snipe and pretend you are up and the other person is down and not tell the truth of the situation. And of course anything I say will draw the usual Flying Monkeys. Let's ignore all that for now.

A Crisis or a Seasonal Downturn?

My own anecdotal view of the land sales and rentals business, which is what I know best, is that it is heading to a crisis. It is doing badly. Yes, summer is always a drought. September is still a drought. Halloween finally reverses that low ebb and we're still 3 weeks out from that, although of course content sales are already out for that occasion. Is it significant that a leading merchant has Apocalypse for the theme? Not pumpkin lattes, not black and orange witch outfits, but zombies. This is just a disorganized pastiche of thoughts and don't bother to read it if you need something fact-filled and organized, but maybe you will have some thoughts to share.

What are the Signs?

Now, many people start arguing with this immediately because they want everyone to know they are superior and it is better for them, or they want it not to be true, so they argue.

But I do see the signs. There are a lot of move-outs. There are a lot of downsizes. This isn't just for me -- at my level, which is significant and varied but small. I talk to other rentals agents and land sellers and I hear them worried and I see them shrinking or even going out of business, although most who are still here after all these years, or even one year, do tend to stay.

 There are a lot of quick sales, as in the Recession years. Yes, land sits baking out in the sun for sale for ages and ages and notoriously so in some continents. But that's because the price is too high. Once it is set to prices that are half of what 2006 was, it sells.

There are not purchases of abandoned land that should be sought after in some cases -- although sure, I see some of it snapped up.

Bellissaria

There are Bellissaria lots even available in odd spurts. Generally I am pro-Bellissaria even though in a sense it competes with me because every premium account is a plus for the economy, and it truly is a rising tide that lifts all boats. Bellissaria gets boring after 3 minutes when you are done decorating for some, then they come to my rentals. Or they add my rentals to Belli. So it's all good. But are we reaching a saturation point and over-saturation where there is now so much Belli -- there has to be given all those page refreshers of people who want to kit out their alts with log homes -- that it really is harming the rest of the economy, sucking away from the land dealers and even content dealers whose content needs much larger homes and lots?

COVID

Now, I personally see a mixture of people moving to bigger rentals and spending a lot more and nesting because COVID quarantine for them  is not ending, and they are in work-from-home now for a good long while. So that -- for now -- offsets the move-outs and downsizes for me. From my perspective, a deep, long-term nesting instinct might not lead them to a rental, but to a purchase of a whole island for themselves -- and I see some of that and I can only welcome it in terms of the whole health of SL, even if it is a loss for me. Kenny Linden used to say, "There's always another guy to buy the island" if anyone complained about Linden policies and though they'd get Linden to change by threatening to leave. There is. But at less of a price. And whenever I update my religious sites and my real-life countries sites servers, I'm astounded at how many places are gone. It's a fraction of what it was 10 years ago because there are far less sims and less people. Sites are important. They are the "things to do" for people who may want a private home but after 45 minutes of that, need something else, and not a laggy bar with griefers and creeps. And I feel there are less of them now because people can't sustain the tier and work to keep them going. I don't mean big islands. I mean 1024s by the side of the road where somebody had an interesting art park or shrine or nature walk.

Depression Spending

Or another phenomenon often discussed, when times are hard, it's the Depression, it's the Recession, people spend on entertainment to forget their troubles, they don't really have $5, but they spend it on a movie or a beer or a magazine or Second Life. And with COVID, they don't go to restaurants or bars but have to stay home so they splurge more in SL. That's all true.

Even so, there are other factors at work here. I see in real life mostly my own country, and I see Americans probably more than Europeans and Asians, although I do see a lot of non-Americans because my rentals are discount, and not everyone in the world is as rich as Americans and they also have VAT and so on. (Their countries have done way better with COVID).

Back to School/Unemployment Ending

So this week there was back to school in New Jersey, not hard hit as New York; in New York City, the Catholic schools opened; some private schools opened on a very limited basis; public schools are still dithering. On my plaza, I see swarms of boys with backpacks that somebody has dressed up and kitted out to go to school, but talking to them, they aren't actually in school and school isn't open -- or it was for an hour to hand out some textbooks or worksheets (which seem archaic, no?) but now closed. Mom and Dad have to work; they are hanging out, and the candy store is closed, the movies are closed, the McDonalds are closed, the basketball courts are filled with grown-ups in quarantine, so there is not room for kids -- but the liquor stores aren't closed, not to mention the nearby needle park, so there's trouble.

Thank God these kids have their phones, where Mom and Dad some times appear among their IMs and games. But these are not the denizens of SL. I'm just describing a phenomenon I see in RL and SL, in my actual location and in my business but also among friends and relatives in other states: people are having to go back to semi-normal. Back to school doesn't mean back to work literally; but it feels like it. Back to school for my niece on her first day is Zoom, but it still means out of habit her parents bought her a new knapsack, shoes, pencils, and a lunchbox which means even if the restaurants were open this week, they would not be going to them, and they will not be buying Fortnite stuff, let's say. (I do not know a single person in RL who will come into SL with me other than my son. Not a soul. And I know many artists, photographers, women of a certain age interested in wiccan and book clubs -- and forget about it. They run screaming.)

Move-outs

When I talk to tenants to have to move out, or have to downsize, generally they say one of two things: they have a new job even more demanding than their old or they have to go back to actual physical work OR they are losing their job now for good OR the unemployment is running out now (as it is in many states around me -- there are some very hard times coming up).

Why would someone end a US $2.50/month rental if they lose a job? Because when you are suddenly deprived of income and even unemployment, that's what you do. $2.50 is half your family meal for one day, let's say, or even 2 days depending on your location. So you don't dare spend it on frivolous things. People tend to view the SL population as hedonistic or spendthrift because my God, they are buying invisible stuff to play with anonymous people. But most people in the world have the "Protestant work ethic" even if they are Japanese or Italian. They feel they have to cut back and be sensible; not spend beyond their means. They need at least to cut out their 3 rentals out of 5, and take down that alt.

Content Sales

I wonder how content sales are doing. I have to assume, unless the Lindens decided on a massive bailout plan for the LinDex, which they might have done, that because content sales are higher, even the inflationary pressure of the stipends from Bellissaria has not undermine the new normal for the LindEx which is a robust 241 -- and please don't tell me that was always like that, because some of us keep records. It was 251 for most of the year before this latest COVID-era improvement. Merchants may have privately demanded this of the Lindens. And maybe they realize that they can't keep devaluing the Linden and hope for merchants to keep staying and making things and having their own expenses, if not tier, then their own uploads and events fees and such.

25-30-50-60-69 Days

The enormous plethora of discount weekend events -- there are now too many to physically get through in 3 days -- tells me that merchants are not selling things at regular prices and have to dump to discount to make ends meet. It's not just generosity during COVID; it's necessity.

I personally find I have tamped my content purchases way down because I tell myself I need to save money. I need to save it for the Fantasy Faire blowout next year, if nothing else! But I also just personally am at a point where a lot of stuff seems identical and I don't want it. And arguably with an inventory of 144,000, I can't argue I need it. You do indeed have to refresh your housing and furniture constantly to keep tenants and they themselves will demand the latest thing. But it is possible now to get that latest thing for $65 out of a gatcha, and not spend $650 as you used to have to do as a minimum to get a decent prefab.

Food Basket

The "food basket" of SL, if you will -- the minimum purchases people make to live in the world comfortably -- really has changed in that regard. I used to map out a typical newbies "budget" for clothing, a prefab, a vehicle, to see, would he have any left over for a rental, or so much left over he would buy and not rent, given the figures of spending $25 US every month that were once floating across the screen.  The average log-on was 4 hours; that might bring $1-5 in purchases. What is the minimum SL food basket today, with the advent of gatchas and 30L Saturdays and Belli? It is no longer the $2000 Lindens used to start you with; it's not $2500 as it was 10 years ago; let's not pretend everyone buys a $10000 mesh body etc.; this is *the minimum* and I believe it is no longer $2000. It might be $1000.

I don't know how the Lindens judge the health of the inworld economy; I don't know if they even think that is important any more; I don't know if they still have a staff person whose job is only to sit and fiddle with the sinks and sources and plan the economy (they used to); I don't know anything, and neither do you, because they don't tell  us. The question then is: do they tell themselves? They may be telling themselves that increased Belli sales or less island dumping means the economy is healthy. But unless they can show that big hill that has the middle class at the largest group with spending of $25 per month; the working class, figuratively speaking, that spends $1-5, and those high-net-worth individuals in the US $500 class, and what its trends are, they can't persuade me they have a good thing. They would judge this sometimes by looking at cash-outs, beyond the payment of tier. That would be one way of trying to see if their customers could make money, any kind of money, let alone a living, from the world. They could pride themselves that this figure was US $450 million per year. That's a ton of money. Facebook doesn't have figures like that, even for app engineers. Instagram doesn't have figures like that. LL does. That is its special sauce. But do they nurture this? 

The lack of curiosity and even belligerence around discussing this topic lets me know that the situation is likely this: the few who can pull serious money out of SL do so quietly, and they don't care if the rest of the world can, in any amount. Nor do the Lindens. And I suppose that is acceptable, because the purpose of this company is to make money for themselves, not for you or me. They want a Better World, but they want it to become Better by someone visiting an inworld museum or reading a book in a virtual book club and becoming woke; they don't actually want a poor American or Brazilian to earn a living with their platform. If they did, we would see an astoundingly different place, unrecognizable from what we see now. It's sad because if they took on this social mission, which I think can be done with an entrepreneurial mission and not as philanthropy, they could really change the world. Instead, Microsoft will do this, and while I'm not a hater of MSFT like all the Apple fanboyz, I don't think they will do it as well by any stretch.

Spending Chart

So, again, we used to have a chart showing all the people in SL and how much they spent every week. A huge hill of them spent no more than US $1 or $5. You had a middle class target of 50,000 that everyone had to chase who spent the $25. You had a much smaller group of 5000 that spend US $100-500 that high-end island dealers could reach, along with weapons and vehicles creators. Today, I have no idea whatsoever what that chart looks at. I wish the Lindens would release it so we could have some notion of what the economy looks like. If I knew there were 100,000 people with $25 a week, I would put out more rentals and do more ads. But I don't think so. I think there are 30,000, or less now. It's the number of premiums at one level, but not only; don't forget you don't need a premium to buy an island or rent an island.

If the economy is really shrinking -- and I do believe it is starting to -- and the Lindens are realizing with Belli they may have competed too much with their own merchant class (of which land dealers make up the bulk and who pay the lion's share of their own earnings), they may pull back. Due to COVID they are not buying new sims in general, something I don't completely understand as being only COVID related or only related to waiting for the regulator to clear their sale.

Linden Actions

SO, assuming the sale will go through (and it may not unless Biden comes in, so I hope they stretch that out; there is so much hostility to tech due to Facebook and Google predations that it could spill over to Linden), the Lindens could:

o Offer the homesteads without restrictions. I don't think they will for the same reasons they stopped them -- the reasons didn't change as I have copiously explained in other threads. One person wanting them on the forums or 20 people wanting them in a Wednesday Concierge meeting will not sway them.  It's laughable to think that the Lindens don't do everything with restrictions and therefore proving they are capitalist is somehow proved by this "gesture" of removing what is not really a restriction but an anchor of responsibility and guarantee that Linden, not residents, make the cash around here. Every single thing in the world is restricted. You cannot buy Linden land. You cannot buy your Bellissaria land. You cannot sail on water between continents -- it's not there. And so on. Not to mention no free press or independent judiciary but that's another conversation. If anything, new fancy premiums might bring more restrictions we haven't dreamt up for arcane reasons we can't understand.

o So -- Offer a shinier premium -- the new premium is being so anticipated that when it comes inevitably it will be a disappointment. I'd be happy if all they did is offer me a higher price premium that might actually discount my zillions of texture of uploads. What could LL honestly offer in a fancier premium that would *help the economy*. The answer is: nothing. Because anything they offer that makes it a better and more attractive offer -- better content, more Belli houses, more perks for content creators -- *harms the inworld economy*. I want you to think about that for a minute. It is the Zen Koan that lies at the heart of SL since its beginning. The Lindens constantly step into the same stream twice with this Zen Koan. But I think we are about to see, especially with new owners, that the balance will tip toward harm or even deliberate eradication of an inworld economy; driving all content to the Marketplace where tax can be skimmed off; and more policing of adult content. And the reason is that enabling a virtual, organic resident economy with the trade of goods and services and lands is an exoticism; it's hard, it's expensive. It's like making a Space Dome. And if the experiment hasn't been particularly attractive, and the people are fighting and the plants dying, they will pull the Space Dome.

o Try to promote all kinds of inworld events like book clubs to get people to spend their COVID time and dollars here. And here, I have to mention an enormous competition that is finally coming to SL that has got to be making them tremble, as it makes Facebook tremble, and which, if the buyers didn't know about before, could cause them to withdraw. And that is the big foot of Microsoft coming into the virtual world space with their AltSpace which recently put on Burning Man. Note that Scoble calls this social VR (and not only he). He has a whole book out on this now about "spatial computing" which is really quite brilliant and comprehensive. "Virtual world" is going to come to be seen as archaic like MUDs or MUCKs or There - or Second Life -- because this other thing is going to be so light and portable and ubiquitous. Why run 30,000 heavy expensive sims with cantankerous customers that keep you one step ahead of the police in some countries with content theft, griefing, and adult materials when you can run platforms accessed by people and shift the burden on them? 

Cartoons

 You will laugh at the cartoons. You will say, silly Scoble, he thinks hurling a car and chatting with a friend is immersive, and SL isn't immersive (we debated this on Facebook, where else). But he's right. The average Joe doesn't need the sheer crueltry of the on-ramping of SL. I personally don't think concerts and chatting are compelling enough. But they are to the billions on YouTube. And that's what this is about, taking YouTube from Google and putting it on Microsoft in VR social form.

Can't Keep Them Down on the Farm

I recently had to get my RL son to do some land operations -- he was on the Teen Grid and once had the number one mall there in his day. He has helped me inworld now and then on the rentals and taken responsibility for a few spots. He has dabbled in some creations. But he has a RL business with RL money from RL photography and video work so he just isn't interested in coming on SL more than he has to. SL just makes him wince and shriek with its complications and errors and bugs. In his bios, he credits Second Life with teaching him business skills at the age of 13 and giving him confidence; he puts it on his resume. SL was for him like 4-H club or AV club was for us in the old days. But nothing more. I can't keep the kid down on the farm. It makes me sad. 

 

Edited by Prokofy Neva
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I sold 5 of my 16 sq m parcels, two for $1000L, one for $500 L, one for $200 L and one (to a Linden) for $100 L.

Annnd, all of them at a profit.

So, i'm gonna keep buying small cheep roadside parcels, cutting off the 16 sq m I want as necessary, dumping the rest, and setting them for sale at more than what I paid for them 

OMG look at me, I'm a land flipper 😁

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9 hours ago, BilliJo Aldrin said:

So, i'm gonna keep buying small cheep roadside parcels, cutting off the 16 sq m I want as necessary, dumping the rest, and setting them for sale at more than what I paid for them 

OMG look at me, I'm a land flipper 😁

might want to read the policy on this http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Linden_Lab_Official:Mainland_policies

this bit under the heading: Policy Prohibiting Land-Cutting

Subdivision is considered "land cutting" when a resident extensively subdivides land into smaller parcels for the purpose of further "renting" or "selling" those parcels — and it is not allowed.

Linden might interpret your activity as land cutting, should your activity on an ongoing basis be considered by them as extensive

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2 hours ago, Mollymews said:

might want to read the policy on this http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Linden_Lab_Official:Mainland_policies

this bit under the heading: Policy Prohibiting Land-Cutting

Subdivision is considered "land cutting" when a resident extensively subdivides land into smaller parcels for the purpose of further "renting" or "selling" those parcels — and it is not allowed.

Linden might interpret your activity as land cutting, should your activity on an ongoing basis be considered by them as extensive

hmm, maybe it is. I guess I'll just limit myself to buying cheap 16 sq m parcels and flipping them

Edited by BilliJo Aldrin
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On 9/11/2020 at 5:44 PM, BilliJo Aldrin said:

I sold 5 of my 16 sq m parcels, two for $1000L, one for $500 L, one for $200 L and one (to a Linden) for $100 L.

Annnd, all of them at a profit.

So, i'm gonna keep buying small cheep roadside parcels, cutting off the 16 sq m I want as necessary, dumping the rest, and setting them for sale at more than what I paid for them 

OMG look at me, I'm a land flipper 😁

No, you're more than that. You're an ad farmer. And that is really extortionist behaviour, and nothing to be proud of. I guess I'm not surprised at this admission, given your forums behaviour.

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11 minutes ago, Prokofy Neva said:

No, you're more than that. You're an ad farmer. And that is really extortionist behaviour, and nothing to be proud of. I guess I'm not surprised at this admission, given your forums behaviour.

If I buy it for $100 L, that means anyone could have bought it for $100 L. What's wrong with relisting it at a higher price?

Thought you were a capitalist, free marketeer?

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Just now, BilliJo Aldrin said:

If I buy it for $100 L, that means anyone could have bought it for $100 L. What's wrong with relisting it at a higher price?

Thought you were a capitalist, free marketeer?

Not everything that involves buying one thing and selling it at another is actually "capitalism". It can be crime -- like extortion. Capitalism is a complex system of culture and finance that grew up over time that in fact prizes keeping customers alive, not killing them. If you buy 16m for $100 and put it out at $1000, especially with an ugly sign to make someone buy back the view, you have devalued the land that is behind it. You have ruined the view. You have enriched yourself at the expense of other people. You have forced people to abandon land. That begins to harm LL's bottom line -- as it has for years. So yeah, bully for you that you made a buck, aren't you special, but you really have no notion of how the real world or even virtual world works, it is too subtle for you. I don't think you should be dignified with more than an answer. 

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3 minutes ago, Prokofy Neva said:

Not everything that involves buying one thing and selling it at another is actually "capitalism". It can be crime -- like extortion. Capitalism is a complex system of culture and finance that grew up over time that in fact prizes keeping customers alive, not killing them. If you buy 16m for $100 and put it out at $1000, especially with an ugly sign to make someone buy back the view, you have devalued the land that is behind it. You have ruined the view. You have enriched yourself at the expense of other people. You have forced people to abandon land. That begins to harm LL's bottom line -- as it has for years. So yeah, bully for you that you made a buck, aren't you special, but you really have no notion of how the real world or even virtual world works, it is too subtle for you. I don't think you should be dignified with more than an answer. 

Its really not an ugly sign, its not even anywhere as big as it could be.

I'm sorry, but  if there is a 16 sq m parcel for sale at a reasonable price in front of someone house, they should cut off 16 sq m in back and buy it.

A lot of my parcels aren't even for sale, I'm using them for networked advertising instead.

Please stop insulting me, I'd hate to have to AR you

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52 minutes ago, BilliJo Aldrin said:

Its really not an ugly sign, its not even anywhere as big as it could be.

I'm sorry, but  if there is a 16 sq m parcel for sale at a reasonable price in front of someone house, they should cut off 16 sq m in back and buy it.

A lot of my parcels aren't even for sale, I'm using them for networked advertising instead.

Please stop insulting me, I'd hate to have to AR you

AR all you like. Networked advertising in 16 m squares roadside might not be a problem, if done with some sense, if regulated, if done in partnership with residents on a sim, but that never happens. It is a blight and a devaluation, done to landowners first and foremost and ruins their view. The clicks on it are so low that it can't be justified even. It really is a scourge, and is essentially a selfish get-rich-quick scheme that doesn't even achieve that goal.

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1 hour ago, Prokofy Neva said:

AR all you like. Networked advertising in 16 m squares roadside might not be a problem, if done with some sense, if regulated, if done in partnership with residents on a sim, but that never happens. It is a blight and a devaluation, done to landowners first and foremost and ruins their view. The clicks on it are so low that it can't be justified even. It really is a scourge, and is essentially a selfish get-rich-quick scheme that doesn't even achieve that goal.

I posted a pic of my signs before, they are tasteful and quite artistic. They only enhance the environment.

As I said before, every parcel I bought was very reasonably priced. The neighbors chose not to buy them, so I did.

I must admit though, that Vote Biden sign is pretty ugly.

Note: I edited the picture to take out my ads in case I was ARed for using the forum post for advertising

 

 

sign04.png

Edited by BilliJo Aldrin
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