Commerce On the Internet

by R. Net Fisher

Investing and gambling, not unlike genius and madness, are often separated by only the thinnest veneer of stability. Fail to provide respected boundaries and needed security, and you beg for a devastating financial chain reaction. In that regard, it is a real eye-opener to consider the magnitude of what is taking shape on the WWW when it comes to high-stakes Investment and Gambling "opportunities."

Don't confuse the two, you say! Well it seems they are already just as intertwined within the lexicon of the WWW as in the end-of-the-day stories offered up routinely in the after-market hangouts of Wall Street. Searching the WWW for references to investing and gambling instantly brings back no fewer than 66 references. When examined, these sites offer information and opportunities on just about every "investment" and gambling device you could possibly imagine. Although the firms appear to be reputable, there is plenty of room for caution and doubt under any circumstances. Adding "offshore" to the query brought 18 interesting sites. One site, Doing Business in Bermuda, provides an informative FAQ on Offshore Investments that can bring "Tax Freedom." Another link takes you to the Nassau Hilton where you can "go" after your Investment Business to "relax" and— you guessed it—gamble! Tell me that combination won't hook schools of both the timid and sucker fish alike!

Looking at these subjects individually, we can see that last year's world gambling revenues reportedly surpassed $450 billion, and financial forecasters are predicting $10-$20 billion per year for Internet gambling in the near future. That's spelled B-I-L-L-I-O-N-S! InfoSeek brings back 100 entries (the maximum) when queried about "Vegas." These range from the Tropicana Resort & Casino to Jack the Traveling Gambler. It was no different with a query on "Wall Street" which brought back the same number, including a link to the Wall Street Journal and InterQuote Market Data.

In "broad daylight," the highly sophisticated and SEC-regulated corporate computers controlling transactions (program selling), fed to the most tightly controlled financial marketplace in the world (NY Stock Exchange), ran amok and caused the loss of a quarter of its value almost instantly (October 1987). With that in mind, should we be concerned about the possible implication of tens of millions of powerful private computers, in the hands of risk-prone (maybe greedy) individuals worldwide, involved in investing and gambling billions from the secrecy of their owners' home offices? Any stability problems here?

Sports International's Global Casino encourages us to "Get ready to experience the ultimate in casino gambling with the largest and safest company in the industry! Join us in the Fall of '95 for the grand opening of our virtual casino. Open an account with us and begin betting for real money! Play all of your favorite casino games in the comfort of your own home!"

If that sounds too risky for you then how about "investing" in DRIPs, a Dividend Re-Investment Program (DRIP or DRP)? Really! If you don't believe it, read all about DRIPs.

Hmmm? Say something about being a method of stock investment that allows dividends to be reinvested in fractional numbers of shares? (Sounds like approaching zero to me.) Of course, you can opt for additional cash payments...oh thank you, thank you!

Finally, if for some subliminal reason risking the possibility of spending your golden years with a worthless DRIP doesn't appeal to you, and you really are dead set on taking a roller coaster ride, financial or otherwise, then how about Real Estate? Cyberspace is just loaded with "For Sale" signs. Try the Internet Directory and News.

Better yet, send us an email here at WWWiz. We will line you up with an astute investor/gambler on our staff who has somehow ended up with quite a few high-desert lots which are now offered at a very, very reasonable price! Don't get cold feet on me now and start believing some cockamamie story about earthquake risk. Believe me! Earthquakes are just like lightning—they never strike twice in the same spot. I read it on the WWW! You can bank on it!

Trick or Treat in Cyberspace:
Investing on the Web!

by R.N. Fisher

Each fall since 1987 (October 22, to be exact) brings a certain foreboding to the frenzied trading floors of the Chicago Commodity Markets and Wall Street Brokerages. It was the worst one-day stock market crash since 1929 and will haunt the memories of those involved until they can no longer put, call, buy or sell. Now as the Dow toys with the 5000 level, after an incredibly steep run-up, our own R. Net Fisher is no exception! Fidgeting nervously and constantly looking over his shoulder to check for the bear coming up behind, he worriedly offers a glimpse of the possible future—a future where Webbies and County Executives alike, operating with the anonymity only a time-shared IP address can offer, and in an environment still struggling to be secure, may someday gamble (excuse us...we mean invest) the last e-nickel they or someone else ever earned, with just a click of the mouse!

It had to happen! The "participation" statistics were beginning to make the Johnny Cochran/O.J. Simpson late night show green with envy. Over 89 percent of the American public now engaged in some form of Investment/Gaming Chance over the Internet on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis. It was only a matter of time! Despite numerous calming proclamations from the balcony of his new 50-story headquarters in Las Vegas, SEC Commissioner Bob "The Web" Citron had miscalculated again. Surely now he must be seriously second-guessing his laissez-faire approach to WWW Investment /Gaming?

Unfortunately it looks like shades of the great "MagicMoney" meltdown of late summer '97—a "SPOOF" stampede of massive proportions! Over the cliff they went, blindly following a fast- chatting, one might even be tempted to say, charismatic, Wall Street Web robot misidentified as an expert, in a worldwide investment feeding frenzy that seemed it could never end! But there it was—POOF!—deleted. Imagine...for many it was the unbelievably precipitous fall from "CoolGold Site of the Hour" to "Host not found" in less than a week. They just vanished into thin ether. Hundreds of thousands of trashed home pages and millions of linkless URLs left hanging on by only the barest of threads. By one count in the middle of the first night, over 11,186,196 very-hard-to-come-by domains were abandoned by their instantly bankrupt owners. Cybercash safe-deposit "boxes" were left ripped open and unprotected, their now- worthless digital contents rapidly being overlaid with creditor answering machine messages.

Many of those now-empty "mansions" were the very luxurious and, we must say, flamboyant, abodes of the Internet Society nouveau riche—sites (as measured by sustained visit counts of over 25 million hits per day, continuously for five days straight) that had reached the very apogee of WWW popularity and fame. Hard to believe, but at one 3-D MPEG Videos of the Great Masters played continuously against a backdrop of the most intricate simulated gold inlay wallpaper ever coded. At another, Surround Sound multimedia tracks set the mood for full- motion videos of Faraway Places that the owners claimed to have actually visited in person! Yet another provided (via 25 dedicated T4 lines) links to over 135 exclusive (password only) hunting and horseback riding-related sites throughout the world. All of this for the unequaled enjoyment of special guests and state visitors alike. The promise was that every visitor would leave having had a near-life experience unable to be replicated under any other circumstance and in the course of a normal human lifetime.

There were several Internet Horatio Alger stories, and subsequently misplaced accumulated wealth also came to an end. At Oxford in England, a high school dropout, fresh from riding the crest of the recent IP Address Futures speculations, had proudly boasted both the largest collection of Rare Book Library links in the Western hemisphere and the largest (page after page after page after page) of Antique Automobiles and Race Cars stills and converted 16-mm black-and-white movie pictures ever assembled for electronic display to the public. Digital sound tracks of any of the five most recent Le Mans races were available free for downloading at the door, as were GIF files of the smiling young owner as he appeared inside his very first Personal Home Page. All of this abandoned—all lost! The investment in modems God! Very, very sad indeed!

Many others, as is true in most situations of this type, were unplugged by greed alone and deserved their fate. Two examples: Bonnie & Clyde Vesco were finally totally corrupted and have been as quiet as a Cuban mouse click ever since. In another case the reportedly was tossed from his Windows ('97v7.3) when unable to fend off angry speculators trying to sell back megabytes of his site's now- worthless MagicMoney certificates. His scam, a high-stakes version of digicashponzi, was nothing innovative, but rather tried and true. In the end you had to give him a little credit for ingenuity. When exposed, he made a last-ditch effort to avoid identification by timesharing busy signals, like rolling blackouts, simultaneously on all 4000 incoming modems. However, justice will be served, and in the panic he forgot to keep his eye on the dedicated T3s installed in the back room. NIC Fraud Detection Squad robots entered and fried his CPU!

It's been enough excitement to make even the most sophisticated DigiDerivative underwriter lose his cool! Orange juice, pork belly, and tulip bulb future traders—eat your hearts out! Junk Bond arbitrage traders look like pikers beside these boys. Merrill Lynch and Orange County Supervisors, aren't you glad you didn't think of it first? Bob, with all of your experience, how could the SEC have let this happen?

(C) Copyright 1995 - WWWiz Magazine - All materials contained herein remain property of WWWiz Magazine.