April 2011
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Selling Out Friends on Empire Avenue

I’d go hungry, I’d go black and blue
I’d go crawling down the avenue
There’s nothing that I wouldn’t do
To make you feel my love

In order to understand the social media douchebaggery that happens on our interwebs, you need to hold your nose and dive in some times. I try most things, but get bored of them pretty quickly. So I figured I had to try Empire Avenue (EAv), the stock trading game in which the stocks are people, and the bigger the douchebag the higher the value. Fortunately you don’t need to piss off invite your friends to get started.

First thing to say about this is, unlike most others, it is actually quite fun and quite addictive. By this I mean in the same way a stock market simulation game is fun and addictive. So I can recommend giving it a try by wasting an evening. Your value is based on the usual supply/demand/market forces, but also on your “score” on various social networks – currently Twitter, LinkedIn, FaceBook, Flickr and YouTube. I spent longer on it than I did on SecondLife (in which I spent all my money on poker and whoring and was destitude in about two hours) and it’s more fun than Quora ever got (which was probably when it was down due to the recent EC2 fiasco).

For me the best thing about the 4 hours of my life I’ve so far wasted was randomly bumping into and having a chat with Jeremiah Owyang (@jowyang / (e)JOWYANG). At the time I was broke so could only buy 1 share in what is likely to become one of the biggest stocks on EAv. And he unwisely invested in (e)BOOF. It was interesting talking with all these big cheeses discussing the potential impact of EAv. There are theories that this’ll be the next big thing and that the social currency may even have some real world value in the long run. I’m rather skeptical on that. Although if you’re a moron you can by Eaves (the game currency) with your hard earned real cash.

If Jowyang thinks I'm a good investment ... Click to Enlarge

I made some pretty dumb-ass investments in (e)IANT, (e)BLOEM, (e)PIEW, (e)BIGBLUEMOOSE and (e)SLWR who were all overvalued already and, seeing as they’re not douches, probably aren’t going to rise much. I bought some (e)IRI seeing she’s responsible for me trying this thing. And in a fit of madness I bought me a piece of (e)PMONKS, which is surely going to be worthless pretty soon. I’ll dump that after this post I think.

I wasn’t very surprised to see quite a few of my Twitter followers on EAv already, but only two of my FaceBook friends were on. Good thing too, ’cause my real friends are a worthless bunch that wouldn’t be worth shit to a shrewd Empire Avenue investor like me.

I have no idea about the strategy of this thing. A good way to make a bit of cash seems to be to monitor the “Recent Arrivals” section, and speculatively buy shares in most of them. If you’re quick, maybe a Google search, in particular to see if they’re rich in Twitter followers. People with a lot of followers seem to double in value as soon as they link their Twitter account to their profile, so you have to be fast. Price hikes from activity on the other network take much longer as, because they’re not public like Twitter, EAv has to run off and index them only once they’ve got your details. I’m told the algorithms value LinkedIn recommendations. Which I, for one, don’t.

Finally, a few strategy tips from me, which I sure to be excellent seeing as I’ve got about 4 hours experience:
- Unlocking achievements gets you cash. So link everything like your blog, FaceBook, LinkedIn and join a few communities
- People seem to search the Recent Arrivals section and buy people cheap if they look cool, before they manage to link their Twitter profiles and share prices rise
- Buy (e)BOOF

Have fun out there.

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