by Alphaville Herald on 25/01/05 at 3:27 pm
by Walker Spaight
“When I was 18 I was chosen to hold Communist party speeches.”
Whether you admire her, revile her, or simply scratch your head at all her “For Sale” signs, Anshe Chung is one of the most talked-about avatars in Second Life. Read the Part 1 of the SL Herald’s two-part profile of Anshe Chung below.
The self-described “business girl” buys and sells more than a sim’s worth of land (65,536 sq. m.) every day in Second Life and is the leader in SL land auctions won by a factor of almost four. She has built a fortune in the millions of L$, as well as untold land holdings on which she runs malls, clubs and other events. In a rambling, hour-long conversation, Anshe told the Herald about her new business ventures, described what it takes to become a “business girl,” and gave us her thoughts on the future of Second Life itself.
WS: You recently set up AnsheChung.com. How has that helped expand your business?
AC: It has been long overdue that I set up a Web site. But it is not a big expansion. Mostly providing another way to find my services. The response has been very positive. Many people use it to obtain quotes for land, to find shops or to apply for jobs. Especially event hosting on my premises has become quite popular. Not such big a surprise with recent changes to the system. I am offering Chung Support since several months.
But it expanded now that the economic incentive is stronger and I advertise it a bit more.
WS: Do you have any idea how many people are on your payroll now?
AC: This is hard to count because some people don’t just work for me. But I think 10 to 20 people depending on how you count.
WS: I think a lot of SL residents are interested in knowing how you built your business. Hard work, obviously, but there’s more to it than that. For instance, how much time do you spend in SL on a given day?
AC: As much as most people spend in their full time job. I am really workaholic now, if you also count my RL obligations. I couldn’t do it if there wouldn’t be strong attraction and excitement that may be unique for Second Life. The pioneer feeling in new virtual reality.
WS: You must also spend a lot of time on the forums and the auctions page, I imagine.
AC: Actually the auctions I do rather efficiently. But there are other parts, and also the mere volume of my business that just eats an insane amount of time. I try automate wherever I can. But margins go down and volume goes up to compensate. I think I currently sell between half one sim and one sim per day. And of course buy about that amount.
WS: And you also provide personal service to people thinking about buying land from you?
AC: Yes, I still try to help every person who contact me, even little newbie. Which is becoming a bit of a challenge now. Since the new year started I had those moments when I had to start switching to busy mode and line up people. I wish I could hire staff to help me with customer support requests, but there are limits in the system that make it hard or impossible for many tasks. For example, removing items from malls when tenants moved out. It would be ideal task for an assistant or mall manager, but I would have to grant people full access to the property, which would allow somebody to destroy all content, to sell the land and so on. And given my negative experiences with fraud on the Internet, I am careful now.
WS: Apart from your business, do you get a chance to spend time in SL socializing, going to clubs and events and hanging out with friends?
AC: I did in the beginning. I actually started my career spending time with people, holding classes, having parties. But at the moment I have very, very, very little time for playing or socializing. Which I regret.
WS: When you started your business, did you use L$ only, or invest some real currency to get it off the ground?
AC: I made it a point to not invest more than I earned inside Second Life. This is important for my original motivation for what I have been doing. I came to Second Life to explore something and to prove one point. I wanted to know how real virtual reality can really become. One thing I found out that can be very real is the feelings you have when you meet somebody in virtual reality. You can fall in love and have real feeling. What I found in Second Life is that people somehow create value. So I started grow business here and my first goal was to use my virtual life to help one child survive in the real world. This is something I achieved last summer. When I was able to earn some money with fashion design and private entertainment I started supporting one little boy on the Philipines, his name is Geo. There is one Christian organization that offers sponsorship program. Basically you pay money to support children in poor countries.
WS: Speaking of real life, I have seen you write in the forums about having to pay RL taxes on the money you earn in SL. Does SL consitute your entire RL income at this point?
AC: My husband and I still support ourselves with RL income. I teach Chinese, English and German. My husband is into computers. Most of what I have earned in Second Life I used to support my parents or reinvest. However, if I would sell everything off now I think it would be enough to support a simple life for myself. So I guess in the past three months I have shown that at least in theory somebody could survive with Second Life. Even in a developed country.
WS: You live in Germany?
AC: Yes, near Castle Frankenstein .
WS: And your parents are in China? Were you born there?
AC: Yes. When I was 18 I was chosen to hold Communist party speeches.
WS: You’ve come a long way! Can I ask your RL age at this point? (You don’t have to answer, of course.)
AC: Yes, very impolite question.
WS: lol, just doing my job.
AC: I was born in 1973. My passport makes me one year older though. But that was a mistake in China.
Read Part 2 of the Herald Profile of Anshe Chung this Thursday.