Wednesday, 30 April 2008

My Alibaba

Out and about after an interesting day, helping with a guided tour for about a dozen newcomers, I stumbled upon the intriguingly-entitled My Alibaba sim and its immediately adjacent neighbour, the rather more prosaically named HongKong Island sim. Not too sure what to expect, I opted to teleport and found myself at a Hong Kong racetrack - which I assume is Happy Valley. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Hmmm... so what has this to do with Alibaba???

I'm glad you asked. In truth, I'm not 100% sure of the answer - but here's my shot at it. My Alibaba is a reference to Launched in 1999 and listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange in 2007,, according to their website, "is the world's leading B2B e-commerce company. We provide an efficient, trusted platform connecting small and medium-size buyers and suppliers from around the world...Our international marketplace ( focuses on global importers and exporters and our China marketplace ( focuses on suppliers and buyers trading domestically in China. Together our marketplaces form a community of more than 27 million registered users from over 200 countries and regions." Gulp!! And muggins here had never heard of 'em until I found these sims. Given their global B2B reach, it strikes me as a sensible use of Second Life to explore how they might use virtual worlds as another B2B channel - at least, until the Cyber Recreation District comes onstream later in 2008.

The pair of sims are both under development, with the HongKong Island sim rather more advanced than its next door neighbour. The former has a number of large, modern buildings, typical of the Hong Kong skyline. I think these include versions of the Bank of China Tower and the International Finance Centre. Perhaps the most striking feature of the sim, though, is the Tian Tan Buddha and associated temple complex. The modern buildings offer shopping, and there is a small orientation area. The My Alibaba sim seems to be mid-development, with a lot of familiar-looking plywood boxes dotting the site. The dominant feature is the race track (you can race motorbikes right now, but horses are still being sorted out), around the edge of which you will (eventually) find a number of businesses.

Of course, I may be entirely wrong about the background to these sims - in which case, feel free to pass on the real story. But while we wait - here's a few pictures to contemplate:

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