Gametrade.eu – beta testing for the UK market starting soon

Gametrade - games tradein, trade, swap, exchange, wymiana gier

As you know pre-owned (used) games trading between users as well as games trade-in (old game for gift coupon) is a big money saver for the consumer and a growing market (Walmart, Best Buy, Toys R Us, Amazon, Tesco, Asda, on-line platforms).

Since I’m focused on Europe and Central Europe in particular I’m glad to tell you that there’s an interesting start-up called Gametrade which is an on-line platform for users trading games between them. It’s legal and it’s already a success in Poland (50.000 PS3/Xbox/PC games exchanged between users, 8 million page views/month, 32 thousand registered users in the first year and growing). Gametrade at present generates revenues mostly by micro-payments from on-line userbase and as far as I know there are some cool pre-paid features for game retailers in the making. As far as I know business-model-wise it’s looking pretty nice. Gametrade is backed by two VC funds – Luxebmurg-based Xevin Investments and local EU-funded incubator InQbe (IQ Partners capital group).

After a successful roll-out in Poland Gametrade is currently developing a project code-named Gametrade EU (http://Gametrade.eu) and is planning to launch beta-test version of its services for the UK market pretty soon. AFAIK other markets will follow – German, French, Russian, Ukrainian. As far as I’ve heard some talks with expansion partners for the UK site and other markets are under way. Do you think it could work? Let me know by commenting below! :-)

Video game market is growing dramatically, particularly pre-owned segment. According to publicly-traded US-based Game Trading Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB: GMTD):

  • Over 3.4 billion units of software product exists and hundreds of millions of
  • hardware units have been sold since 2000 which constitutes the market opportunity
  • New release titles continue to sell between $50 to $60, while pre-owned titles
  • represent a compelling value proposition for the consumer
  • Pre-owned segment represents a tremendous value proposition for customers

Facts & Figures accumulated by Game Trading Technologies:

  • Analysts estimate the U.S. and European console software market to be $17 billion in
  • 2009, growing to $20 billion in 2010 and will grow at a 9% CAGR from 2009 to 2011
  • The pre-owned segment has been growing even faster and is more profitable than new release titles
  • In the U.S., Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target have approximately 50% market share of
  • new game sales, while GameStop (GME) has ~25% and Amazon around 3%
  • Specialty retailers such as GME have developed a competitive advantage over the mass merchants due to their ability to offer a large number of pre-owned games to consumers AND by their ability to let consumers sell or trade their older games to finance the purchase of a new release
  • In 2009 approximately 3.4 billion units of software have been sold for all platforms in the U.S. and Europe since 2000 that would constitute the ?pre-owned? market of console software titles. This number will rise to 3.9 billion units by th end of 2010

I like Gametrade for clean, strictly on-line business model. It’s a platform just like eBay. Still it can be used by traditional retailers as a tool for reselling used games, getting rid of overpriced stock, promoting loyalty and building local communitites around stores.

Do you think a Central European start-up can make it regionally? Hope so or I’ll close this blog down ;-)

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TMT.Ventures’10 Warsaw – VC rivalry on the rise

28th of May 2010 will be another special day at the Warsaw Stock Exchange HQ as TMT.Ventures’10 conference takes place once again.

After last year’s financial crisis imperceptibly entered the year 2010 and the new decade started. It surprised us immediately with successive eruptions and shocks reminding that the future is unpredictable. History is far from the end. The less we know the more valuable seem all well educated guesses and predictions. We will discuss such predictions for the next decade in the new technology, new media and telecommunications industry (TMT). Join invited market analysts, consultants and experienced entrepreneurs on May 28th, 2010.

What we know for sure is that hundreds of millions of euros from the EU will continue to drive Polish and Central European TMT industry. The only question is in what direction and with what effect. It is easy to foresee the growing role of the National Capital Fund (KFK), which in the years 2010-11 is planning to set up further investment funds targeting TMT projects. During the conference on the May 28th we will discuss the future of such funds, their model of cooperation or competition and the role of KFK.

Increasing competition between CEE investment funds is one of the most interesting trends of the next decade. During the conference we will discuss implications for funds and entrepreneurs, who should benefit from this development. Let’s hope to see some Central European start-ups on the front pages of The Financial Times or Time Magazine.

In the meantime let’s meet on 28th of May during TMT.Ventures’10 Warsaw: http://www.tmtevents.eu/

Special Guest:
Andrea Cockerton | Founder, Mudhut

Andrea is founder of Mudhut, the Cambridge-based venture market consultancy that has worked alongside almost 300 entrepreneurs on pitching for venture funding and for business critical commercial deals. Previously a director of the Great Eastern Investment Forum, one of the leading business angel networks in the UK, and prior to that one of the original management team behind Virtual Business Network, some of Andrea’s recent projects include recurring projects with Microsoft on the global Imagine Cup competition, pitch workshops for around 50 entrepreneurs as part of Running the Gauntlet, working closely with various fast growing SMEs in sectors including telecoms, games, biotech and the events industry on both commercial & investor pitches, working with a UK university on a pitch to Richard Branson for project funding, and helping three young entrepreneurs pitch directly to Bill Gates in Seattle. Andrea is a frequent public speaker on the subject of investor pitches and communicating business critical information under pressure.

Special Guest:
Marek Borzestowski | Serial Entrepreneur, Co-founder of Wirtualna Polska (FT Group)

Marek Borzestowski is the co-founder of the successful first horizontal portal in Poland “Wirtualna Polska” (www.wp.pl). This company was backed by Intel Capital as its first capital investment in Poland, accurately predicting the potential of search systems and the mass popularity of the Internet. Wirtualna Polska is currently within the France Telecom group. Among Marek’s main interests is a passion for intelligent information technologies and their application in everyday life. He co-founded Inteliwise which is a company delivering avatars for on-line customer care and support in SaaS model. Marek is a graduate of Gda??sk University of Technology and European Business Management School in Great Britain, Marek participated in the projects of the Nuclear Research Institute in Karlsruhe in Germany.

Special Guest:
Marcin Strza??kowski | CEO, InteliWISE (Polish tech-company based in California)

Marcin Strza??kowski is the CEO of Inteliwise – a polish SaaS company based in California and listed on the NewConnect public market in Warsaw. Inteliwise provides its customers with personalized avatars for on-line customer care and support. He previously created NetMania, the biggest interactive game on the Polish Internet. From 2000-2004, he held managerial positions at Wirtualna Polska S.A. which was the first Polish horizontal portal. In 2005, he became the Marketing Director at Crowley Data, Poland, responsible for the company’s marketing and communication strategy. Key achievements include: a 58% to 91% increase in brand recognition and growth in the number of users by 400% as a result of creating and implementing a new promotion and advertising strategy; an increase in the level of sales to retail customers to $1 million within 2 years; reduction in costs of operating customer service tasks by 80%. He graduated from Warsaw School of Economics and Institut Francais de Gestion (MBA).

Check out other special guests: http://www.tmtevents.pl/conference-tmt_ventures_2010_warsaw-3.html

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Workaround for WordPress 2.9.1 database error: [MySQL server has gone away]

WordPress is a very useful and widely supported publishing tool but sometimes I think I’ll go totally bald or grey because of it. Especially when I realize my blog has been down for several hours.

example-mysql_queries-day

example_mysql_bytes-day

In case you’re having a WordPress blank page problem caused by ‘MySQL server has gone away’ – there is a solution that should work: http://robsnotebook.com/wordpress-mysql-gone-away

Since Rob stopped updating the page I attempted to use his solution for WordPress 2.9.1 and here’s my wp-db.php file for you to download and try using: http://www.smart-up.eu/img/wp-db.php.txt

Just remember to backup first in order to fallback to your original wp-db.php file if something goes wrong.

I hate to meddle with someone else’s code but what can you do. Sometimes you have to be a man, right?

Keep me posted if it works for you and I’ll let you know if I have any more of these unpleasant ‘MySQL server has gone away’ episodes.

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Google Apps mail troubleshooting

Google Apps mail can be a great help when your servers are overloaded with traffic and just die when you send your newsletter or e-mail notifications to all your users. Then you learn about Google Apps and how you can just outsource your e-mail – personal and mass-email – to google. And it’s free! Standard version at least. Wow.

However after your first mass-mailing goes out you might find that your “domain has been disabled“. Google it, internet is full of stories of desperate admins and small business owners who can’t access their mail. Unfortunatelly standard version of Google Apps comes with no tech support – just online help. Seems fair enough. It’s free so READ THE FINE PRINT before you mass-mail your subscribers, right?

Ok, so you switch to premium paid version (40 EUR per every mail account) and hope to get some support. Just after you pay your accout gets fixed and you can send and receive e-mail again! Magic! :) But after another mass-mailing your account gets trimmed down or sth and whenever you try to send something you get a message like this:

Expected response code(s) [250] but got response [421 4.7.0 Try again later, closing connection. (MAIL)

You submit a ticket to tech support and wait. After a while they reply and tell you to check connectivity between your outgoing mail server and smtp.gmail.com with traceroute (check!). They also tell you to manualy try to reproduce the problem:

Do you have any server logs which clearly show Google shutting down the connection to your mail server? Is this reproducible by doing a manual telnet test to Google servers from a command line prompt on your mail server? Please try sending a test email from using manual telnet and see if Google closes connection on you.

The thing is you are using SSL so telnet 25 doesn’t work. You google the task at hand at come up with this procedure:

1. Login to your outgoing mail server

2. Type openssl s_client -crlf -connect smtp.gmail.com:465

3. Type EHLO <your mail server domain>, and then press ENTER

4. Type AUTH LOGIN. The server responds with an encrypted prompt for your user name (like 334 VXNlcm5hbWU6)

5. Enter your user name encrypted in base 64 – use this converter to encrypt yourname@gmail.com (use a personal e-mail account that works, not your Google Apps mail account)

6. The server responds with an encrypted base 64 prompt for your password (like 334 UGFzc3dvcmQ6). use this converter to encrypt your password – yea, I know – they can read your e-mail now ;-) so use another converter for your password, geez

7. Type MAIL FROM:<sender@domain.com> (don’t forget <>), and then press ENTER. If the sender is not permitted to send mail, the SMTP server returns an error.

8. Type RCPT TO:<recipient@remotedomain.com> (don’t forget <>), and then press ENTER. If the recipient is not a valid recipient or the server does not accept mail for this domain, the SMTP server returns an error.

9. Type DATA.

10. If desired, type message text, press ENTER, type a period (.), and then press ENTER again.

11. If mail is working properly, you should see a response similar to the following indicating that mail is queued for delivery:

250 2.0.0 OK

Note that you’ll get an error message if you don’t authenticate before sending test e-mail:

530-5.5.1 Authentication Required. Learn more at
530 5.5.1 http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?answer=14257

Took me an hour before figuring out how to authenticate ;-) Many thanks to MS for helping me out to figure out this procedure. Who would have thought?

Anyway I sent the test e-mail so no problem there. But I still get this bugger when sending e-mail from that same account but not manualy:

Expected response code(s) [250] but got response [421 4.7.0 Try again later, closing connection. (MAIL)

Perhaps this will help solve this mistery: http://code.google.com/intl/pl/apis/apps/reporting/google_apps_reporting_api.html

Hope so…

Will keep you posted. Let me know if you have similar problems.

UPDATE: found a cool reporting library (just download into apache accessible dir, access http://yoursite/reportingdemo.php) – everything seems to be fine, but still no success with emails going out

SOLVED! It seems our application was causing Google to disable mail accounts for flooding its servers with broken e-mail addresses (retrying attempts to send e-mail to addresses such as my@mailcom or mymail.com). So typical. After implementing a script cleaning up the broken addresses once a day everything seems to be fine.

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Avatar – what a trip!

Just got back from a movie theater after seeing James Cameron’s Avatar. Wow! What a ride, what a rush

Avatar

Right now I feel like waking up from a vivid dream about this beautiful, exotic, low gravity world populated by big, strong, physically fit humanoid creatures living the-simple-life in almost perfect harmony with their planet and thus enjoying every minute of it – like we never seem to do on this Earth.

I feel like I’ve been dreaming about eco-friendly Utopia, erotic and seductive Garden of Eden, andrenaline pumping Shangri la, a Paradise in every sense of the word. Just like Jake Sully I would like to go back right now…

James Cameron sure knows how to create magic and tell a story using available 3D technology. What he’s done is quite simple really but it sure is working for me.

Let’s go step by step through Master Cameron’s work.

First – since you’re about to put a milestone into moviemaking history you have to use available 3D technology to its full potential. So try to imagine a world rich in dazzling vistas and amazing lifeforms – both fauna and flora – and try to mix them so the audience can’t tell what’s alive and what’s just pretty-looking and glaring at night. It has to be in another planetary system so the moons and a huge planet hangs over the horizon which is quite a view itself. It has to be low gravity so everything’s huge and all structures – living or not – are almost impossible to imagine in our world. Low gravity also means incredible jumps and aerial evolutions, skinny yet agile lifeforms like flying dragons and all kinds of amazing stuff.

Second – since you’re introducing most viewers to 3D movie technology you have to make the main character – with whom everyone identifies with – put on his “3D glasses” and experience immersion just like the audience does. While we are being immersed in his 3D life he’s going for a ride with his avatar. It’s a 3D movie about 3D technology of the future.

Third – the main character has to be physically impaired so his 3D ride seems even more compelling and desirable. Compared to these blue humanoid cat-like creatures living in a low grav world we all seem physically impaired, unfit and/or old. I certainly feel like it with my 12-hours-a-day in front of a computer screen and resulting back pains. So beam me up Scotty, I’m ready for my 3D avatar movie or any personalized 3D technology which James Cameron seems to predict. I want mine 3D-kit now! But let me play the Avatar game first…

Fourth – populate the distant planet of our dreams with beautiful, slim yet powerful creatures we’d all like to be. Make them live a simple life with respect for elders and their planet, a life filled with joyous trips and exciting rituals embracing life and celebrating the simple yet astonishing fact of living.

Fifth – add a flavour of supernatural – a living and thinking planet connected with every organism inhabiting it through countless neuro synapses – a giant, unified, surrounding being. A deity, a fact of nature. Something to believe in, to touch, to talk to.

Sixth – gimme these big bad diseased corporations representing the wickedness of our world, a world deprived of values we’d all like to believe in, a world in which a man is just a tool for the money virus to spread and multiply. Because money – the ultimate goal and driver of all corporations – is like a simple DNA-viral-lifeform which requires us only as carriers to spread across the stars and distant worlds while it’s only goal is to wipe out everything and everyone constraining its multiplication. So let me bring them corporations down even for a moment. Let me win a battle at least, if not a war. Get some you corpos you…

Seventh – gimme some historical allegories from colonization of America by early-white-settlers, Africa and Asia by greedy-europeans or any other expansive civilization in human history. Show me some pain and suffering of native Pandorans so I can reflect on current affairs and condemn any resources-driven-expansion. Allow me to simplify and forget that one world’s downfall preserves another world’s prosperity and way of life.

Eighth – let me indulge in a love story out of this world. Make me feel young again and allow me to explore the unexplored. Let me go where no man has gone before… if you catch my drift ;-)

The critics will say that Avatar is a well-written posthuman story, a dawn of transhuman, a praise for openness, hybridization and diversity. They’ll say we’ve seen it all before in Blade Runner, Matrix, Star Wars, however Cameron’s form is quite refreshing. They’ll say that Avatar is a politically engaged, critically inclined opinion about imperialistic America, a protest against a philosophy of preemptive strikes against perceived threats, which in fact are waged to justify resource-driven-wars. They will also say it’s about America’s involvement in Iraq.

Well, I say stop your blabbering. Do not overthink it. Do not ruin my ride through Pandora. It’s entertainment so let me wear my avatar Jake Sully so he can wear his so we can both live, fight, love and enjoy ourselves.

Let me address the question of “why there is evil in the world” tomorrow. Okey?

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Investors are from Mars, tech companies are from Venus

TMT.Buyouts'09 Warsaw

Investors are from Mars while tech and new media companies are from Venus. Lawyers are not so bad. Buyouts are like any other trading deals so it’s good to have an advisor who has more negotiating skill and experience then the buyer. We need The Founding Fathers of the Polish Internet not just because they were in the right place at the right time but because they had unique experiences of dynamic growth and solving complex interpersonal and business issues.

These are just a few of the conclusions drawn from the exciting TMT.Buyouts’09 Warsaw conference which was held on November 25th 2009 at the Warsaw Stock Exchange. This time the main theme of the event were buyouts after which previous owners get some capital to fulfill their goals and dreams – either disappear and live the good life or take on another business challenge.

More:

http://www.tmtevents.pl/conference-tmt_buyouts_2009_warsaw-12.html

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TMT.Communities’09 Warsaw

TMT.Communities’09 Warsaw

If you often reach for your Blackberry, iPhone or G1 to check new e-mails, use GPS, Google Maps or Twitter -€“ you may be infected with Generation C syndrome. If your favorite application if Firefox or even IE and you cannot imagine your life without Skype, Last.fm, social networking and torrents – you most definitely are infected. Bad news: there’€™s no cure. Good news: there’€™s more people like you. It’s the only real pandemic out there.

What is Generation C? It’€™s a group of people all over the world aged 15 to 45 choosing a digitally-enhanced lifestyle and thus empowering hardware, application and service providers but also grassroots organizations like creative commons or Piratbyren. In the world of Generation C it’s all about content, communication and cooperation. And since the content is digital it doesn’€™t exist without a proper medium and your favorite device. It all ads up to a digital world where people are the most important component individually and form powerfull and influencial communities all together.

Generation C exerts enormous pressure on different content, telco and other service industries. What is the future of copyrights, what are tommorrows monetization models. Is the internet and media industry going to evolve providing on-demand services or are the users going to provide them to themselves leaving the intermediaries out? And breaking the law in the process?

Let’s discuss these issues on June 18th, 2009 during TMT.Communities’€™09 Warsaw conference in the Warsaw Stock Exchange HQ.

Check it out:
TMT.Communities’€™09 Warsaw

  • Success Factors of Starting up a (community empowered) Internet Business
  • These are the clusters of the internet! How the netusers spontanously build a society of their own, defending the internet against lobbyists, laywers and governments.
  • The Pirat Bay Trial – how would it play out in Poland?
  • Portal, vortal or community? Is the old-fashioned portal business model outdated? Are niche vortals and brandnames the way of the future? Are communities the only way to grow?
  • Evolution of copyrights, content distribution and multimedia business models
  • Generation C -€“ content, community, co-creation, control
  • P2P search engines – back to direct democracy
  • Specialized communities: family tree, location-based, entertainment, girl nextdoor…

Special Guest:
Marcin de Kamiński | The Pirate Bay

Marcin de Kaminski (www.dekaminski.se) is one of the founders of the pro internet lobby group PiratbyrĂĽn (www.piratbyran.org), aswell as the wellknown filesharing giant The Pirate Bay (www.thepiratebay.org). He has been coordinating projects at the Swedish pirate scene since the early 2000:s. Combined with a long and loving relationship to social networking through digital medias he has an unique inside knowledge of digital grassroot organizing. At the moment Marcin combines his experiences from his involvment in the progressive internet movement with social research in a large study called Cybernormer (www.cybernormer.se), concerning normative processes when youth cultures clash with copyright and internet legislation.

Special Guest:
Lukasz Gadowski | Team Europe Ventures

Lukasz Gadowski is the co-founder and a partner of Team Europe Ventures. He studied in Paderborn (Business Informatics) as well as in Mannheim and at HHL Leipzig (Business), and in 2002 founded the company Spreadshirt (currently employing 300 people worldwide) and was, amongst other things, a co-founder of the social network ?StudiVZ? (sold to Holtzbrinck in 2007, currently the most-viewed German internet site). At the beginning of 2008, Gadowski switched from his executive position at Spreadshirt to a seat on the supervisory board, which he now chairs. As of 2007, he has been active as an angel investor and was involved in the launch of a number of internet companies. Furthermore, Lukasz has made numerous investments, both domestically and internationally, and was distinguished as the 2007 ?Internet Entrepreneur of the Year.? Lukasz has a personal blog at lukaszgadowski.com

Special Guest:
Jakub Duszyń„ski | Gutek Film

Artistic director and head of acquisitions in Gutek Film, Poland?s leading art house distribution company established in 1994. Feature film expert of the Polish Film Institute. Creator and host of a weekly TV show promoting art house films in ALE KINO (Canal+ Poland). Co-founder, artistic director (2001-2007)and co-author of the film program of ?Era New Horizons Film Festival? in Wroclaw, Poland. Co-programmer of €œSummer of Films€ Film Festival in Kazimierz Dolny, Poland. Jakub holds an MA degree (a€ grade) in philosophy of law from the faculty of law of the University of Warsaw.

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