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Who is Raj Date and why do we care?


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Raj Date is the 3rd member of LL's new board of directors, now that their acquisition has completed.   The other two are the men who "led" the otherwise faceless group that acquired LL, Brad Oberwager and Randy Waterfield.  I give Mr. Date's bio from LL's website below.  He's a heavy hitter.

Mr. Date is not only a consumer banking regulatory phenom,  he's also the founder of Fenway Summer, a VC firm and financial technology advisory firm.  I suppose he personally is likely to have been a member of the investment group that bought LL.  Fenway Summer invests in some cutting-edge banking technology firms: it provided part of the seed funding for Veem (then Align).  

It is interesting that the word "blockchain" is missing from his bio.  Fenway Summer invests in several firms looking to revolutionize global banking, and many of them use blockchain for this and that.  Veem uses it for its ledgering.   Tilia, of course, has also been used in blockchain environments. 

Mr Date also sat on Circle Internet Financial's board, a global payments firm deep into blockchain and cryptocurrencies.  Circle: "We help internet businesses accept payments and send payouts globally in one unified platform. Move digital money leveraging traditional payment rails or do business in a more global, scalable, and efficient way through blockchain infrastructure. Circle seamlessly connects these worlds."

Whatever that means.   

What's notable from my nearsighted view is that none of these three have visible credentials in virtual worlds.  Zero.  The board is well equipped to quietly develop Tilia into ... something ...but ill-equipped to help SL in any way other than to occasionally throw some money over the fence.

I say "quietly" because although I'm not terribly stupid and am watching carefully, I have no concrete idea of what they intend to do with Tilia.  Of course, I'm a finance ignoramus.  If they made more noise about Mr. Date's joining the board, it is likely that they would attract the attention of many folks who would immediately deduce why this group wanted Tilia enough to buy LL.

I wonder if any of those folks could readily deduce why they would want SL?

There is one guy who voiced strong support for this acquisition who might be able to help us out with that question: Philip Rosedale.

Anyone else have an idea?

__________________________________________________________

Raj Date bio

Raj Date was the first-ever Deputy Director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). As the Bureau’s second-ranking official, he helped steward the CFPB’s strategy, its operations, and its policy agenda. He also served on the senior staff committee of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, and as a statutory deputy to the FDIC Board.

Before being appointed Deputy Director, Raj acted as the interim leader of the new agency, serving as the Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury. He led the CFPB for most of the first six months after its launch.

Currently, Raj is the Managing Partner of Fenway Summer, an advisory and investment firm focused on financial services and financial technology. In that capacity, he chairs the investment committee of Fenway Summer Ventures, a fintech venture capital fund, and works with clients of FS Vector, the fintech advisory firm. He also serves as a Director for a number of innovative firms in financial services: Prosper, the marketplace lender; Green Dot, the bank holding company; Circle, the digital asset firm; Grasshopper, a de novo bank; and College Ave, a private student lender.

He is a graduate of the College of Engineering at the University of California at Berkeley (highest honors) and the Harvard Law School (magna ***** laude).

 

Edited by Nika Talaj
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its pretty cool they are bringing in some heavy hitter, but I'm not into any crypto anything and never will be,  I hope they are not going to bring that here,  there's to many issues with it,  it sounds good on paper, but watching how these are derived and how easy value can be lost and other factors makes me think, it's something LL should not sink their teeth into.

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3 hours ago, Nika Talaj said:

What's notable from my nearsighted view is that none of these three have visible credentials in virtual worlds.  Zero.  The board is well equipped to quietly develop Tilia into ... something ...but ill-equipped to help SL in any way other than to occasionally throw some money over the fence.

I say "quietly" because although I'm not terribly stupid and am watching carefully, I have no concrete idea of what they intend to do with Tilia.  Of course, I'm a finance ignoramus.  If they made more noise about Mr. Date's joining the board, it is likely that they would attract the attention of many folks who would immediately deduce why this group wanted Tilia enough to buy LL.

I wonder if any of those folks could readily deduce why they would want SL?

Let's assume the absolute worst hypothetical for a second; This group primarily wanted Tilia. LL wouldn't sell only Tilia to them and insisted to be acquired instead. The group has little interest in SL and doesn't care what happens to it. How would we react and why would that change anything?

Obvious disclaimer: I don't think this is what's going on. But yeah, why do we care, besides general interest?

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Green Dot? That's setting off some red flags.

This is the most recent I'm aware of: Walmart Class Action Says Green Dot Prepaid Cards Are Compromised

Google "Green Dot scandal" (without the quotes of course) and you'll find tons more going back to at least 2013. 

2013 (updated 2017): Green Dot Cards Are Primary Source Of Payment Among Inmates In Baltimore Jail, Says U.S. Attorney

 

If they purchased SL solely to gain possession of Tilia then chances are pretty good that SL will be on the back burner unless SL generates enough revenue via Tilia to financially warrant  improvements and new marketing strategies for SL. It stands to reason that Tilia generates more income that SL, no?

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53 minutes ago, Silent Mistwalker said:

If they purchased SL solely to gain possession of Tilia then chances are pretty good that SL will be on the back burner unless SL generates enough revenue via Tilia to financially warrant  improvements and new marketing strategies for SL.

Assuming they keep SL running at all.

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5 hours ago, Wulfie Reanimator said:

Let's assume the absolute worst hypothetical for a second; This group primarily wanted Tilia. LL wouldn't sell only Tilia to them and insisted to be acquired instead. The group has little interest in SL and doesn't care what happens to it. How would we react and why would that change anything?

Obvious disclaimer: I don't think this is what's going on. But yeah, why do we care, besides general interest?

If they ditch SL, good luck replacing the SL transaction fees from Tilia with some new Tilia source!  Because, Tilia!

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9 hours ago, Nika Talaj said:

Raj Date is the 3rd member of LL's new board of directors, now that their acquisition has completed.   The other two are the men who "led" the otherwise faceless group that acquired LL, Brad Oberwager and Randy Waterfield.  I give Mr. Date's bio from LL's website below.  He's a heavy hitter.

Sounds like you answered the "who" and "why do we care".  So..looking for more of a point, I am!

Yes, I saw he was involved with CFPB.

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Well, here's a point.  Let's say these guys acquired Tilia to help them put together a blockchain-based toolkit for mid-sized banks (like those the Waterfield Group tends to acquire) to play more easily in global financial markets.  Even allow retail banking customers to seamlessly manage digital currency accounts, which would vastly expand the available market for digital currencies.  Neh?

That's one big vision they could be embarked on.  It's a long-term play, of course.  And yes, they could use SL to help fund that.

It would be much better if they had someone on the board who was interested in building SL, representing its interests to the the others.  Randy, Brad and Raj should keep this in mind:

Quote

What doesn't grow, dies.

Anyway, I see 2 opportunities for SL here, one short-term opportunity and one long-term one, which I'm still pondering.

You see, I spent quite a bit of time working for companies that got acquired, mostly very successful acquisitions, so I have a very focused view of what to do after you get acquired. 

So here's one answer to why we care that yet another big money player has joined LL.

ecom.jpg.5f9f324c58c8aa7f019a17c18193e4c4.jpg

The only jobs open at SL are support,  ecommerce development, & an ecom lawyer.  Yet, SL's engineering staff is wearing itself to a frazzle playing whack-a-mole with fallout from Project Uplift (which are ideal tasks to train new engineers on the codebase), the map hasn't worked since September,  EEP needs a shot in the arm to stimulate uptake, and the opportunities to grow the grid, now that it's on AWS, are endless.  Friggin' Roblox has 830 employees, what's LL at, 250 now? 

I would have thought that LL's senior staff would have had a pile of job reqs ready to be approved, in a Biden-esque signing frenzy, 15 minutes after the acquisition went through.

@Ebbe Linden , @Grumpity Linden, @Oz Linden !!!

A truckload of money has pulled up at your door!  GO GET SOME!

Guys, do not be intimidated by your new big player overlords.  Use them, they will be happy to help you get money to grow, it is why they exist!

Remember.  They run companies.  YOU run a world.

 

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9 hours ago, Wulfie Reanimator said:

But yeah, why do we care, besides general interest?

This is what happens in forums, people find things to care about. Without things to care about, there would be nothing to do but post kitteh-pikshures.

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at this time SL is critical to Tilia as SL is Tilia's cornerstone client. Without a cornerstone client to show actual sustained revenues for Tilia as a business then the potential in attracting other customers to Tilia is made harder. Actual  sustained revenues from existing clients being the difference between a proven (actual) good business idea and a unproven (speculative) good business idea

also my understanding is that the purchase of Linden was a leveraged buyout. The money to buy (in part if not all) was borrowed. That money has to be paid back and SL generated revenues is (if not all at least most) of the pay back money

taking these two things together then I think SL is not going to be ignored, set aside or discarded by its owners any time soon

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2 hours ago, Mollymews said:

at this time SL is critical to Tilia as SL is Tilia's cornerstone client. Without a cornerstone client to show actual sustained revenues for Tilia as a business then the potential in attracting other customers to Tilia is made harder. Actual  sustained revenues from existing clients being the difference between a proven (actual) good business idea and a unproven (speculative) good business idea

also my understanding is that the purchase of Linden was a leveraged buyout. The money to buy (in part if not all) was borrowed. That money has to be paid back and SL generated revenues is (if not all at least most) of the pay back money

taking these two things together then I think SL is not going to be ignored, set aside or discarded by its owners any time soon

This is the way.

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7 hours ago, Nika Talaj said:

  Friggin' Roblox has 830 employees, what's LL at, 250 now? 

I could be off the mark here but I thought the Lab was 250 or so when Sansar was part of the deal but then they laid off quite a few from there leaving it with under 200. 

 

3 hours ago, Mollymews said:

also my understanding is that the purchase of Linden was a leveraged buyout. The money to buy (in part if not all) was borrowed. That money has to be paid back and SL generated revenues is (if not all at least most) of the pay back money

That makes me sad as I had hoped the monies they had saved from divesting Sansar and its payroll would have been pumped back into Secondlife development instead of being diverted to paying for this leveraged buyout. 😒

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12 hours ago, Nika Talaj said:

the map hasn't worked since September,  EEP needs a shot in the arm to stimulate uptake, and the opportunities to grow the grid, now that it's on AWS, are endless.  Friggin' Roblox has 830 employees, what's LL at, 250 now? 

Map tiles haven't worked since November 18th.

Why does uptake hinge on EEP and not other things like giving creators tools to make content more efficient or to make completely new content altogether?

With the two rounds of layoffs prior to finally selling Sansar, LL shed 70 employees from their 200 total.

 

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2 minutes ago, Lucia Nightfire said:

Why does uptake hinge on EEP and not other things like giving creators tools to make content more efficient

I meant uptake of EEP, specifically, more broadly by the user base.

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5 hours ago, Arielle Popstar said:

That makes me sad as I had hoped the monies they had saved from divesting Sansar and its payroll would have been pumped back into Secondlife development instead of being diverted to paying for this leveraged buyout. 😒

agree with the sentiment. I think tho that we shouldn't expect the now owners to pump substantial new money into SL itself. Any new money, if any, will go into Tilia I think

also I think that SL will continue on the same path it has always been - the long incremental technical improvement path.  I think tho that this path has more primarily to do with keeping SL up and running with minimal downtime and breakage for the residents/customers than it has to do with anything else

the existing SL customer base isn't really into move fast and break stuff. They are more into never break my stuff. Which is a pretty standard response from customers of products with a relatively expensive product purchase/maintenance price. There are always some customers who are prepared to accept/suffer breakage of their stuff in pursuit of the next new shiny, but when stuff is relatively expensive to buy/maintain then the numbers of people prepared to accept this are quite small

move fast and never break, is a pretty elusive target for any technically complex product, which SL is. So slow and steady incremental technical improvement. Which just happens to dovetail with the investment strategy of the now owners. So at least in this sense is a good fit for the now owners and I think a substantial majority of current customer base

Edited by Mollymews
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I suppose if we know that Tilia was just a slow-motion acquihire with SL as training ground, we could surmise that SL-targeted development (ours and the Labs') need tight deadlines to be relevant.

I don't think we know that, though. Also, this is far from the first time SL has funded somebody's get rich quick scheme emerging business model until that brave new venture evaporates.

One wonders if the new board will remember that they bought the best, most profitable virtual world business (a hardy survivor of a hype-cycle of yore), once Tilia profitably dissolves into the swirl of Fintech froth.

Edited by Qie Niangao
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38 minutes ago, Qie Niangao said:

One wonders if the new board will remember that they bought the best, most profitable virtual world business (a hardy survivor of a hype-cycle of yore), once Tilia profitably dissolves into the swirl of Fintech froth.

this is the thing. I hope that Tilia turns out to be everything that the now owners envisage, as when so (or if so) then SL will no longer be as relevant (at least financially) for the owners as it is now

when so (if ever so) then SL could finally be seen (even onsold) as a established mature product in its own right and not as a vehicle for other things

i think that we will see this when one day (if ever) Tilia is separated out from Linden, no longer a subsidiary. It may go the other way tho. SL separated from Linden into its own company structure

should this ever eventuate then I wouldn't mind if SL ownership was broadened. Like some kind of share offering in which residents could partake. I would like to own some small share of SL the company if it ever became possible, and am sure there would be other residents who would feel/do the same. Not that I expect being a owner would give me anything extra in terms of being a resident. I would buy a share (if I could) just to have a deeper relationship with the SL world than I have now

Edited by Mollymews
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3 hours ago, Mollymews said:

 

...

should this ever eventuate then I wouldn't mind if SL ownership was broadened. Like some kind of share offering in which residents could partake. I would like to own some small share of SL the company if it ever became possible, and am sure there would be other residents who would feel/do the same. Not that I expect being a owner would give me anything extra in terms of being a resident. I would buy a share (if I could) just to have a deeper relationship with the SL world than I have now

I do like the idea of sl being owned by people who actually care about sl.

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14 hours ago, Mollymews said:

at this time SL is critical to Tilia as SL is Tilia's cornerstone client. Without a cornerstone client to show actual sustained revenues for Tilia as a business then the potential in attracting other customers to Tilia is made harder. Actual  sustained revenues from existing clients being the difference between a proven (actual) good business idea and a unproven (speculative) good business idea

also my understanding is that the purchase of Linden was a leveraged buyout. The money to buy (in part if not all) was borrowed. That money has to be paid back and SL generated revenues is (if not all at least most) of the pay back money

taking these two things together then I think SL is not going to be ignored, set aside or discarded by its owners any time soon

Chances are they wanted Tilia only but SL was bundled with it, and there was no way around that.  Realistically SL is pushing 20 years old and it's really kludgey at this point. It remains to be seen what is down the road but personally I wouldn't bet on SL actually making it to a 20th anniversary.  Just my opinion and it doesn't count for much. 

Edited by Gage Wirefly
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1 hour ago, Gage Wirefly said:

Chances are they wanted Tilia only but SL was bundled with it, and there was no way around that.  Realistically SL is pushing 20 years old and it's really kludgey at this point. It remains to be seen what is down the road but personally I wouldn't bet on SL actually making it to a 20th anniversary.  Just my opinion and it doesn't count for much. 

I wouldn't have bet on Active Worlds making it to 20 years yet it will be celebrating 26 years this year.

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9 minutes ago, Lucia Nightfire said:

As long as there are Boomers & Gen-Xers with money who either have low expectations or no MMO experience, SL will always have an audience.

well I have no money as a gen-X,  I had my life screwed up and medical bills were "haha more on the credit report" I learned some time ago that is bad imo,   but mmo expereince,  they have never been my thing.

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On 1/26/2021 at 4:13 PM, Mollymews said:

also my understanding is that the purchase of Linden was a leveraged buyout. The money to buy (in part if not all) was borrowed. That money has to be paid back and SL generated revenues is (if not all at least most) of the pay back money

taking these two things together then I think SL is not going to be ignored, set aside or discarded by its owners any time soon

I don't dig around in filings anymore, do you remember where you found that the LL purchase was a leveraged buyout?  Having basically zero assets to liquidate (not even patents), LL seems like the worst leveraged buyout target ever.

Also, if you happen to know how much LL went for, I'd love to know that.  Private msg, if that's a thing that you do :)

-----

I can see why the buyers would want to strip down the company for purchase, always makes sense.  I can see a risk-based argument for always leveraging company purchases, even if you have access to nearly infinite capital.

BUT.

I cannot see an argument for continuing to starve LL until all the employees evaporate.  The new board should re-invest now, if only to protect SL's revenue stream.  The lab has been stripped down past the point where maintaining the product functionality is clearly possible.

They have not acquired a chain of pizza restaurants here.  They have acquired a unique virtual world, which is inhabited not just by acne'd gamers who would be happy to trudge off to some other game if this one crumbles.

It is inhabited by people whose lives have been hamstrung by covid.  It is inhabited by many many disabled, economically trapped, and otherwise hampered people who have rediscovered life, income, romance and positive self-images in SL.   It is inhabited by digital artists who can make their own microcosms.  It is inhabited by people who USED to be hampered, but have remained residents even when their lives expanded again, caught by SL's charm.  The shared continents allow a nearly infinite landscape to travel and discover.  The things you discover can change daily, being created more often by other residents than by LL employees and contractors.

To treat LL like any other leveraged buyout, stifle SL's growth to contribute a fairly insignificant revenue stream so Randy, Raj & Brad can more easily gratify their personal ambitions to bolster their status in digital banking, would be monstrous.

Karma's a *****, guys.  Keep it in mind.

Ima watch LL's job openings page, in hopes that you three decide you'd like to invest in the human race.

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