How I Became a Virtual Millionaire on Empire Ave

Invest in (e)DEVINELINES on EmpireAvenue.com - the Social Stock Market

If I had a dollar for every “eave,” I’d be a millionaire twice over. But as it is, I’m not even rich on paper. Only in cyberspace, and with a virtual currency.

What am I rambling on about?

Allow me to explain. A few months ago, my tech-savvy friend Oscar invited me to join EmpireAvenue.com, the social stock market. I had heard a little about it, but I wasn’t particularly interested in playing an online game. Especially not a play version of eTrade.

Not Another Game!
I’m really not a gamer. I don’t play Xbox, Wii or any video games. I’ve never played Farmville, Mafia Wars, Second Life or Angry Birds. About the closest I’ve gotten to playing any type of game is “checking in” on FourSquare. But I rationalized that this smart-phone app also had marketing applications. And FourSquare could occasionally get me a free appetizer or dessert at restaurants.

So I resisted initially. I needed another social time-sink like I needed a… well, like a hole in the wallet. Yes, Empire Avenue was a game, but it turned out to be more than that. 

After finally signing up, I discovered that #EAv (as it’s referred to in Twitter-speak) was a way to measure your online activity and influence—in real time, no less! In a sense, EAv was a way to measure the elusive ROI of social media.

One of the founders of EAv, @Dups (his name is long and hard to pronounce), has said that the game was inspired after a beer-fueled discussion of the premise in Karl Marx’s Das Kapital that “everything you do has value.”

So Empire Avenue gave people “a neat way to judge the value of a person, then go connect with them.” Empire Avenue then became a social network.

Social Networking on Steroids
It’s like a stock market game and social networking/analytics tool all in one. But instead of investing in companies, you buy and sell shares in people who are active on social networks. (Corporate brands have ventured onto it, too.) But EAv not only measures, it encourages interaction on social channels. So if you want to see your share value go up (and who doesn’t?), you become more active than you normally would. You tweet, like, favorite, comment and blog more, because it all equates to more points on the Avenue.

Getting Hooked Up on the Ave.
Once you hook up your social channels (Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Pages, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr, Blogs, and more recently FourSquare and Instagram), Empire Avenue assigns a value based on your activity on each of them. Your activity on the Avenue itself is also factored in. This value translates into a share price and dividend for your “stock”. Instead of dollars, the currency on Empire Ave is “eaves” (apparently inspired by the abbreviation of the name: E. Ave.).

If you’re really competitive and gung-ho, you can spend real dollars to buy more eaves and “luxury” goodies (but I’m too cheap for that).

The Dark Side
Like the stock market itself, there are ups and downs to Empire Ave, and it’s not for everyone. The downside for companies is that at some point their stock will drop. It’s simply inevitable. This has prompted some negative blog posts about the “dark side” of the game, such the term “losers” being used to describe companies when their stock values were falling. In response, “losers” was changed by the game’s founders to “sliders”.

Complexity and Punishment
The Avenue gets complicated when trying to figure out how values and dividends are calculated. And it takes dedication to maintain a respectable share price and dividend for one’s “investors”. Some people have quit because they didn’t like being “punished” for taking a break from their social network activity. This led to the addition of a “vacation” mode, so that you could take a week or two off and not have your share price take a dive.

The Upside
I enjoy Empire Avenue because it’s not just a game. It encourages more social interaction and helps measure online influence. It even encourages generosity and reciprocity. (Eaves are a lot easier and less risky to spend than dollars.) It’s also a powerful networking and self-branding tool that can expose you to a worldwide audience. And I’ve met some great people through it. Some in real life, too.

Are you on the Avenue? Leave your ticker symbol in the comments section so I can invest in you (as my bank account permits!). You can find me at (e)DEVINELINES: And if you’re not on it, why not?

UPDATE: Empire Avenue now features WordPress.com blog integration, along with prizes for those who enter (just by adding your blog). Here’s the link: http://blog.empireavenue.com/wordpresscontest Good luck and have fun!

40 Responses to How I Became a Virtual Millionaire on Empire Ave

  1. As a new member to EAv, I couldn’t agree more with the benefits you’ve described. I hadn’t ever touched any of the other FB games, but this is certainly different. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks for commenting, Alex. From what I’ve heard, there are also networking/community-building benefits even to games like Farmville, but they just never appealed to me. I think it’s important to keep in mind that EAv is still just a game and not get too worked up over it. (But too bad I can’t cash in my eaves for real money!) Looking forward to meeting you!

  2. Mitch you are so right about the value of Empire Avenue. I think many people get caught up in it and see only the value of the game itself (a higher stock price). The truth worth comes from being able to monitor the value you receive from being socially active on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and all the others that are being added.

    • Denise, thanks for the comment. I’m amazed at the networking power of Empire Ave. In only a few months I’ve met some great local people in person, and interacted with people from all over the world. I’ve also learned about other tools through people on EAv. Great to meet you, as well!

  3. Mitch…I found we have something in common. Oscar talked you into #EAv too? Great newbie read. And I’m not a gamer either. I think I played PacMan growing up! LOL So…what should I do first? (e)HAPAMAMMA

    • Hi Alison! What should you do first? Well… look for people with high dividends and relatively low share prices so that you can get a good return on your “investments”. Then spend all your eaves each day and you’ll gradually build up your bank account. Also read some of the articles that are posted on the left side of your EAv home page. Leave “thank you” comments and “shout outs” to increase your points for each transaction. Every interaction adds to your value! And most of all, have fun! :)

  4. Thanks for this good analysis of the basics of Empire Ave…as one who’s still getting used to it…I appreciate good information!

  5. Hey, Mitch!

    I love this post, because it reminds me of something I wanted to share. Each day, I get the EA emails notifying me of things like mentions, achievements, etc. Something strange that I notice lately, is that I am always moving between CEO, CFO and President on my index (Pop Culture)…even though I’ve not really done much on EA in the last month or so. Haven’t bought or sold shares in anyone in at least 3 weeks, I haven’t thumbed up anything, or even posted comments in communities I belong to. And I’ve only bought A Bigger Piece of the Pie about 3 weeks ago.

    PS – You’ve never even played Angry Birds? You’re kinda missing out, LOL!

  6. PS – Congrats in your first million! The second’s a bit harder :)

  7. Great post and one that I will share with friends who are considering Empire Ave. I signed up a few months ago and find it very interesting and a great way to meet new people and your post hit on many of my similar thoughts. My account is (e)JFEITLINGER

  8. Great post! Thanks for the helpful information. As an Empire Av newbie … as in I have an acct, and that’s it … I appreciate the tutorial. May be just the push I need to get active on the Ave,

    • Debra, if I can do you it, you can! On the home page of your EAv profile, look to the left under the “Getting Started” heading and you’ll find some how-to articles and FAQs. Thanks for connecting and have fun!

  9. Awesome post, Mitch. I’ve just shared it on Twitter (and Facebook) My Ticker is (e)AMSALL and I’m just off to buy some (e)DEVINELINES :-)

  10. Couldn’t have explained it better myself!

  11. I saw this online and joined. Then convinced Stacey to come over. It’s been a great resource so far and I’ve made several friends much like I have when I’ve joined other networks. The connections are priceless.

    This is a great intro post for anyone wondering what the value is of another game. My ticker is (e)SBEASLA

    • Hi Suki, thanks for commenting. That’s pretty cool that you brought Stacey over to Empire Ave! The game/network seems to be catching on pretty quickly over the last few months. Or maybe it just seems that way because that’s when I became aware of it! Thanks for leaving your ticker, just bought shares in you :)

  12. Thanks for the great post!! We really appreciate feedback of all sorts as we grow the platform. The WP.com integration today adds another connection to folks tool kit to connect to great content. (e)RICEAV

  13. As great as EAv has been from a networking perspective (at first), I am feeling a definite sense of “burnout” when it comes to what it takes to keep the game rolling. I would really be interested to see what their business model is because aside from advertising it doesn’t seem there is much else going on. Your thoughts Mitch?

    • Stacey, thanks so much for weighing in. I’m curious about the business model, too. Besides advertising, the only other “monetization” I can see is the option to purchase more eaves or “luxury” items, etc with real dollars.

      And I can totally relate to the sense of burnout. It can get exhausting, not to mention time-consuming, just to keep up. (Today has been quite a ride for me!) Robert Scoble had an interesting shareholder message a couple months back when he said the game aspect was getting old for him, but he was intrigued by the possibilities of using shareholder messages as another type of targeted newsletter list for his tech-industry news and the like. Since those messages cost eaves, that may be another source of revenue for EAv.

  14. Agree with your comments. Enjoy the ‘game’ and I’m learning, but it doesn’t have take time!
    Thanks for your support: http://www.empireavenue.com/montessori

  15. Great post, thanks! I’ve become more active on EAv over the past couple months but have still thankfully remained semi unaddicted ;) It’s really fun though and it’s cool to tie in a stock market theme to our social experiences.

    • Hi Deb, thanks for the comment. I noticed that when I backed off for a couple of weeks my share price took a dive! I guess moderation is the key, although today was not a moderate day for me ;-) Now if I could just translate my EAv experience into real dividends on the NYSE or NASDAQ!

  16. Mitch -

    Great Article, you are now King of the EAv Empire! Look forward to reading many more of your awesome blogs!

  17. Hi Mitch! What a great article. I’m getting started on #EAv, so I appreciate something so clear to point me in the right direction. I’m BRDRX, and I’ll look to add some DEVINELINES to my portfolio right away! Best!

  18. Call me wind because I am absolutely blown away.

  19. Excellent read! Thanks for sharing your story!

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