Second Life creates a millionaire

Anshe Chung's online assets now worth more than US$1 million in the real world

In early November, the company used US$250,000 in profit as an investment to expand Dreamland, its biggest residential project. It was the biggest investment ever in virtual real estate, Chung said, and in mid-November the market boomed, pushing her assets firmly above US$1 million. Chung stressed that this million isn't money that Graef has in the bank; it's all assets inside Second Life. But Ailin has made real money from Second Life, Chung said. She has sent money to her parents in China and helped out a disadvantaged boy in the Philippines.

After the press conference, Chung took reporters on a teleporting tour of some of ACS' sims, both finished and under construction. The real-life company affiliated with ACS has about 25 employees, including a team in Wuhan, China, building the sims. It's hiring and plans to double in size soon, she said. Renters include real-life companies, including a major TV station, she said. Many of them want to remain anonymous while they explore Second Life.

Some companies are already active in the virtual world. Toyota Motor's Scion brand, which sells youth-oriented cars in the U.S., has a space where avatars can look at and test drive virtual cars.

Chung thinks Second Life's economy is just getting started. She predicted there would be 10 or more millionaires there within a year. She balked at the suggestion that her fortune is immaterial because of the threat of hackers disrupting Second Life.

"A lot of what people own in the real world is immaterial, too," she said, fingers typing away in the air. "Value is defined by what somebody is willing to pay for something. There is a risk of SL failing. There is also a risk of nuclear war."

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