Saturday, May 16, 2015

SLN Archives: BNT Bankrupt 53 Sims Offline ( October 2009)

Original article by Dana Vanmoer,
Additional comments by Bixyl Shuftan

In the history of Second Life Newspaper, one of our major sponsors for a time was BNT holdings, held by an Intilibber Brautigan. He could be a little opinionated at times, once remarking (not an exact quote) "Second Life's furries should stop yiffing and start actually building things." As a defender of Woodbury University, infamous for having a reputation as a griefer hangout, he raised more than a few eyebrows. But his business seemed to be doing well, and his sponsorship bennefited us for a time, Second Life Newspaper getting a huge space for an office, a quarter sim, of which a three story brick and mortar building was built on. James and Dana also got their own private island, on which we had a few parties on, notably our second anniversary bashes. Then in mid-October, there was trouble, major trouble. We couldn't get to our office, Dana couldn't get to her island. Dana soon found out the reason: without warning our sponsor had defaulted on the sim payments.

October 19, 2009
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A couple of days ago I got a message to say my sim was offline, ok these things happen so I didn't worry too much, next day I logged in to find 'Your location is unavailable you have been moved to a nearby area'.

OK whats going on???

I went to the office and looked at the map about 1/2 of BNTs sims were gone - including my island WTF!!!????

Scrolling through past notices I found one in the Brautigan and Tuck holdings group:

BnT Holdings started with one man and his dream. A dream of building a virtual free state where the residents could proudly call Ancapistan home. Unfortunately even the world's greatest empires have endured hard times. These times are no exception. Due to the current economic status of the world and Second Life, it has become increasingly difficult to sustain 50 sims. BNT Holdings will continue to exist, but we must take one step back in order to take two steps forward. If you wish to remain a part of our family at BNT, we will be happy to relocate you to our original estate in the Surreal BT sims. Thank you for being a loyal part of BNT. Here's to a bright future.

No warning, no notice, nothing just gone.

Next - will we lose the office? Our 1/4 sim on BNT land the answer came the next day when that too disappeared. In this time I had spoken to Duchess Shepard who helped me get the sim back online for 24 hours so I could empty it. The loss of this and all our hard work on Fairyteller was devastating.

Duchess also knew nothing about this until it happened, despite the anger being directed towards her she is doing what she can to help people for which I commend her as many in her position (and some who are) don't log in or hide behind alts.

Many notes followed which I wont repeat here. I asked Intlibber for an official statement that I received this morning, which to be honest, I am not going to publish in full simply because its an out-pouring of spite and blame on others (named) none of which actually answers the questions, the rest you can read here:

"Three years ago, I launched BNT with the dream of building a real life sustainable business that could pay a real world income for myself and staff. Those were heady days when land sold reliably for 12 L$ per square meter and one could double their holdings in a few months. I built some of the iconic buildings of the SL business community, and was featured from almost our first week in business in major SL and RL media for our projects. We grew from a half sim in October 2006 to 53 sims this summer, doing so organically from sales, and capital raised via inworld markets. We had begun the transition to becoming a major developer a few times, the first time stymied by sabotage by the largest competitor, and most recently by a smaller competitor with a big obnoxious mouth."

"At the same time, it appears that the real life economy is taking much longer to recover than we had expected earlier in the year. The disposable incomes of SL users continues to erode in RL and SL, causing some of our long standing tenants to give up their land. We have also seen a systemic failure by our shareholders to follow sage investment advice to rent BNT land rather than land in other estates, in order to support their investment in BNT.

Unlike many in SL, we do not subsidize our SL business with real life income. BNT always operated on a sustainable basis on its own organic inworld growth and cash flow and was not a 'hobby' or 'game' like we see so many in the land business who do not operate with common sense business models and who undercut the market with cost-based prices.

As a result of these pressures, this past month we fell into an unrecoverable condition. We had been expecting additional income from development projects but those have not come to fruition in time to even out our cash flow. We do not expect the real world economy to recover sufficiently in the next 6 months to improve the land business, and we have made the decision to get out of the land business almost entirely.

As a result of a sudden severe drop in income, Linden Lab seized our sims on the 16th of this month. We have negotiated with them to reopen the sims temporarily so tenants may recover their property.

We are working to raise capital to recover them so we may sell them off and to pay off existing tenants tier. Once we accomplish this, we will focus solely on the content, finance, and education businesses. Our work with Woodbury University is poised to take off with major student body involvement in SL.

Unfortunately, the 10 sims we have with Surreal are also under attack from the admins there. Despite being paid up on tier with Surreal, and despite having reached an agreement with their staff about our continued operation there, they have seized our sims and banned our staff from serving our customers. Despite public claims by Deuce Marjeta, we have kept tier paid up to date on our Surreal BT sims and his actions we consider criminal theft. Despite his claims to the contrary, we do NOT endorse our residents moving to Surreal, as he reneged on our earlier agreement.

Many are angry at tier paid in advance and lost, from what I have heard Mr Brautigan is trying to arrange the sale of the now defunct sims in order to pay the debts owed - we shall just have to wait and see if anything comes of this.

Despite what people have said about this newspapers' support of Intlibber we have always tried to give an even picture with all sides being able to comment rather than making judgements or leading 'witch hunts' as many other publications do. Not through a desire to keep a sponsor, as accused, but through what we believe to be fair reporting allowing a forum for people to post their own opinions and arguments.

My personal opinion doesn't matter here even if I think someone has acted very badly I will always try to make sure the reporting here is unbiased.

I would like to say that I truly understand the anger of residents who have not only lost money but also content and much much more BUT please direct that anger at the right people not the ones who have tried to help throughout, I am truly dismayed at the outpouring of hatred directed at those who have not tried to hide.

Dana Vanmoer

SLN has a new headquarters

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We didn't hear much more about Intilibber after his bankruptcy. In 2011, Kal-El Venkman's Krypton Radio claimed he had an alt account named "Overbrain Unplugged," linked to the Bronyville sim, which fell in July 2011 and the account removed as a ban evasion alt. So apparently he had been banned. His page on the Second Life Wiki describes him as being "banned for multiple breaches of TOS." That would be the last we heard of him until August 2014, in which he posted on Facebook about being limited to a 1 sim "prison" in Second Life to put his items on Marketplace as part of a settlement reached with Linden Lab. He would respond in February 2015, in which he stated, "We reached a mutually agreeable final settlement with Linden Lab, and are pleased with the results. ... This has given us the resources for the next phase of things for us." Intilibber stated he and BNT would be launching their own virtual world, "one based on an uncounterfeitable cryptocurrency, copybot-immune DRM." He went on to say "BNT land holders in SL will be compensated with free purchase price on an equivalent or greater amount of virtual land in this virtual world. BNT shareholders will see their shares continued in the new company, Galactic Systems Inc."

For Second Life Newspaper, BNT's bankruptcy yanked the rug out from under us. Dana scrambled to get a new sponsor and new office, and soon cut a deal with SkyBeam Estates. But the paper wasn't quite the same, our third anniversary celebrations being a low-key affair compared to our second. We continued on for a while. But in April 2010, Dana told the staff she couldn't keep the paper going, and on June 5, Second Life Newspaper folded.

Bixyl Shuftan

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