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Media Center > Singapore Sold Online in Virtual World - Asia One Digital

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Singapore Sold Online in Virtual World - Asia One Digital

Reporter: Tessa Wong, Asia One Digital
Tags: Singapore, Online World, Virtual World, Virtual Real Estate

Singapore just sold for $207 in the online world – a virtual world to be exact – at Here, people buy virtual real estate as an investment and to make money. In this online world, your time spent in a virtual world buying and selling virtual real estate can make you money.
'Singapore' sold online for $207

may be brimming with millionaires and the entire island worth billions in value, but in the online world, it is worth peanuts - US$136 (S$207) to be exact. That was what American Internet entrepreneur Richard Kirkendall paid for Singapore on virtual world

'I decided to buy it as an investment. I also always wanted to visit Singapore,' explained Mr Kirkendall in an e-mail interview with The Sunday Times.

Weblo, a Canadian-based website launched last December, is one of the many virtual worlds that have sprung up online in recent years.

Like Second Life and Entropia Universe, users can trade in virtual real estate for real money.

However, its 40,000 users do not mingle in a 3D environment, as Weblo's use of profile pages gives the virtual world the look and feel of a social networking website such as MySpace.

Described by its chief executive Rocky Mirza as 'Monopoly on steroids', Weblo members, who can sign up for free, buy and sell virtual replicas of countries, properties and even celebrities.

Users can add customised content such as photos, videos and write-ups to their pages to attract viewers, said Weblo's marketing director Sean Morrow.

The profiles can be viewed by non-Weblo users and turn up in search-engine results.

Besides the city itself, Singapore landmarks such as VivoCity, Raffles Hotel, the Parliament, Changi Airport and even businesses such as Singapore Airlines have been snapped up by enterprising players, and put up for sale on Weblo.

While the airport is retailing at US$1 billion, the Parliament and the Singapore Stock Exchange are a steal at US$88.88 and US$60 respectively.

The stakes can get pretty high in Weblo. Last Wednesday, a Canadian user bid US$26,000 in the ongoing auction of England. Bids are expected to hit US$70,000 by the time the auction closes this Thursday.

Mr Kirkendall, who paid US$25,000 for his most profitable property, the state of New York, thinks such virtual real estate is a worthwhile investment.

Like many Weblo users, the 34-year-old earns from more than sales of his online property. He makes money from advertisements on his profile pages, and earns US$10 for every 1,000 visits to his online properties.

As the 'governor' and 'mayor' of several states and cities on Weblo, he also earns up to 0.5 per cent of every sale transaction of properties situated in those places.

The entrepreneur, who joined Weblo a year ago and currently earns US$100 a month from it, owns 57 other cities including Shanghai, Florence and Vienna.

Many of them have bare profiles, as Mr Kirkendall has focused on other business ventures.

The Singapore page, for instance, has just a one-line description: 'Nice place to visit.'

As a result, Mr Kirkendall has only earned a few dollars from it, although he plans on developing it soon by adding tourist information to the website.

In the meantime, he plans on paying the real Singapore a visit while touring Asia in December.

'I'm definitely excited to see Singapore in real life,' he said.