Over the past two months there has been growing speculation in the media and on the SL rumor mill as to the situation developing on the Costa Rica Sims. Since many of these rumors are based on false information, Zeebster Colasanti, CEO of Dream Seeker Estates Corporation and the new owner of Costa Rica Sims, now sets the record straight.
[Editor's Note: We have chosen to print this piece written by Dream Seeker Corporation CEO Zeebster Colasanti without editing, revision or additions. We understand that it represents only one side of this story. We would be more than pleased to offer up any differing point of view or information provided by former Costa Rica Sims owner Giancarlo Takacs about the circumstances detailed in this text to provide a balance of coverage on this story. However, our repeated attempts to far to speak to Mr. Takacs regarding this issue have met with complete avoidance and lack of response when questioned regarding any aspect of the Costa Rica Sims estate history or sale.]
Costa Rica Sims estate was established in 2007 by Giancarlo Takacs. By January 2012 the estate found itself in bankruptcy and with a US$3,000 monthly cash deficit, financial assets seized, a growing debt of US$12,000 and Giancarlo’s refusal to make further tier payments to Linden Lab it faced imminent deletion from the grid. Everything that Costa Rica Sims is and was could have been deleted overnight with no refunds or other compensation to the residents. In order to preserve the beauty of the estate and its community, Dream Seeker Estates Corporation on January 12 2012 agreed to take over the estate, settle its outstanding debt with Linden Lab and restructure it into a viable entity.
In order to fully understand the recent developments at Costa Rica Sims, factual information concerning a series of events that led up to the current situation need to be understood.
In late 2010, Giancarlo Takacs sold the Costa Rica Sims estate to Kavai Onizuka. The agreement between Giancarlo and Kavai was that Giancarlo would continue managing the estate and would continue representing himself as the CEO of the estate in order to avoid panic amongst the residents that normally stems from the usual uncertainty and doubt when management of a company changes.
Over the course of the following year it became evident that the estate was losing its lustre, staff turnover was high, events dropped off the calendar and the general appearance of the sims became noticeably shoddy. At the same time, the estate got into financial difficulties. Oon the books the estate was 98% occupied and was generating a profit of US$2,000 per month, when in reality it had a monthly deficit of US$3,000. This US$5,000 per month “revenue leak” representing 30% of theoretical revenues was attributed by Giancarlo to bugs in the billing system that he claimed incorrectly recorded expiry dates when people paid tier and necessitated his frequent manual adjustments of these expiry dates in the billing system.
In November 2011 Kavai approached Zeebster Colasanti, owner and CEO of Dream Seeker Estates Corporation, with an offer to sell Costa Rica Sims. At the time, Zeebster declined the offer due to other recent acquisitions. In December, Kavai again approached Zeebster with a reduced price, however, Zeebster again declined the offer based on the fact that the estate was not profitable and had a current liability to residents for prepaid tier estimated at the time at US$ 8,000. At this point Kavai advised Linden Lab that he was no longer interested in owning Costa Rica Sims and transferred the sims back to Giancarlo Takacs. Giancarlo however, also did not want the sims and refused to pay tier to Linden Lab. As a result, Linden Labs locked Giancarlo out of the GC Takaaki account which was used to collect the tier and suggested to Zeebster that if he was at all interested in acquiring Costa Rica Sims he should come to an agreement with Giancarlo as soon as possible.
Over the next two weeks, Giancarlo introduced Zeebster to Costa Rica Sims, explaining the many positive attributes of the estate. He showed Zeebster the different venues that comprised the public amenities of the estate including both architectural structures and various nature preservation areas. He explained the value of the vibrant fashion community, the importance of the Costa Rica Sims beauty pageants and the automatic nomination of their winners to the Mr and Miss Virtual Worlds pageants. He talked about an agreement reached with a mentoring group intended to welcome new residents to Second Life. He boasted about the popularity of the Costa Rica Sims website, its various blogs and photo streams. Based on these and many other representations, Zeebster agreed to purchase Costa Rica Sims.
On January 12 2012 Dream Seeker Estates Corporation and Giancarlo Takacs signed a legal RL Purchase Agreement. In this agreement, Dream Seeker Estates Corporation agreed to acquire all assets representing “all or substantially all of the property that can reasonably be regarded as being necessary to carry on the virtual real estate licensing business that was carried on by the Vendor under the name of Costa Rica Sims” as well as the “CRS Brand” which was defined as “certain virtual environment, standards, online content, events, and community relations that are renowned throughout the virtual environment of Second Life and integral to the Costa Rica Sims”.
In exchange for these assets, Dream Seeker Estates Corporation agreed to accept a US$ 10,000 liability of prepaid resident tiers and pay off the US$12,000 of Giancarlo’s outstanding debt to Linden Labs. Also integral to the Purchase Agreement was a 12 month employment contract retaining the services of Giancarlo as a manager of the Engagement Team at a rate of US$1,500 per month in order to ensure a smooth transition to the new management team and continuation of the various community services.
Zeebster’s first priority after acquiring the estate was to correct the apparent bugs in the billing system. A review of the code revealed that the system did not implement logging of administrative changes, including changes to tier rates or expiry dates. Before releasing access to the system to the support and sales teams and removing Giancarlo’s access, Zeebster updated the billing system code to implement logging and immediately the US$5,000 per month “revenue leak” disappeared. Since then there has not been even a single occurrence of a situation where an incorrect expiry date would have been set by the billing system. Since the portion of the code responsible for setting expiry dates has not been at all modified, the possibility of the “revenue leak” being caused by system malfunctions has been ruled out.
With the billing system logging implemented and the “revenue leak” plugged, the next priority was to establish whether all assets and accounts have been properly transferred to the corporation. As it turned out, they were not. In-world groups were still owned exclusively by Giancarlo as were a number of social media accounts including Facebook and Flickr. Request to have these accounts transferred were met with passive resistance, undue delays, arguments, and deceit. Even though the accounts have finally been transferred, much of the value initially represented by Giancarlo could not be realized because as it turned out agreements that he said were in place did not in fact exist, or he had no authority to assign them to a new business owner.
At this point, any further working relationship with Giancarlo was no longer possible. The original employment agreement was dissolved and Dream Seeker Estates Corporation and Giancarlo Takacs signed a new contract in which the corporation agreed to pay Giancarlo L$ 2,250,000 and Giancarlo agreed to have “no further communication with the customers of Dream Seeker Estates Corporation with the exception of private conversations on matters that are not related to the business of Dream Seeker Estates Corporation.”
Since then Costa Rica Sims has been subjected to acts of active sabotage which have greatly deteriorated the state of the estate. Venues have been damaged and content has been removed. An example of this is Lunatico Inventor, Giancarlo’s boyfriend, removing several landscaping items from public areas of the Costa Rica sims which Giancarlo sold to and was paid for by Dream Seeker Estates Corporation as being part of the content making up the “CRS Brand” and which Lunatico later claimed to be “his” items.
Over the past two months, whilst doing everything in their power to save the estate and its community, Zeebster and the corporation have been accused of destroying Costa Rica Sims. Unfounded rumors are circulating that the intention of the corporation is to shut down the waterways, rent out every square meter of the sims, and eliminate the national park areas. Based on these rumors and false accusations, many residents of Costa Rica Sims have left the estate and still more have indicated that they will be leaving. Several residents have informed the new management team that they have heard things from Giancarlo and one even suggested that copies of conversations between Giancarlo and other residents of the estate have been seen in which Giancarlo is “trashing” the new management team and “doing a little sabotage”.
Given the circumstances, Dream Seeker Estates Corporation considers Giancarlo Takacs to be in breach of contract and hostile to the future well-being of the estate and feels obligated to disclose to the public all factual information concerning the acquisition of Costa Rica Sims, the subsequent developments, and the corporation’s plans and intentions with respect to the Costa Rica Sims estate.
First and foremost, it is the intention of the corporation to establish profitability of the estate in order to allow it to survive. The estate was never expected to generate large profits due to its significant portion of land surrendered to public areas and high operating costs due to the fashion and social events provided. Nevertheless the estate must pay for itself. Today, with its current vacancy rate at 27% and a further 10% of land allocated to public spaces, the estate has a negative cash flow of over $5,000 per month.
In order to ensure the longevity of the estate, the corporation will be implementing certain measures this month intended to reduce costs while retaining the most important aspects of the estate. At the end of the month, some 30 Costa Rica Sims regions will be removed off the grid. These are regions that have now been almost entirely or nearly entirely vacated. Any residents still remaining on these sims are being assisted to relocate to other regions.
In order to bring back a sustainable balance, the ratio between public spaces, events and their associated costs and the amount of revenue collected from rented parcels, the entire fashion and events budget will be moved to Dream Seeker Estates. All public buildings on Costa Rica Sims with the exception of the Welcome Centre will be removed, the sims hosting those venues will be closed or downgraded and in the future all events will be sponsored and hosted by Dream Seeker Estates. Some of the Costa Rica Sims venues will be rebuilt on the Dream Seeker Estates events sim in order to preserve these facilities.
As some regions get removed from the grid others will be relocated to ensure connectivity between water sims and preservation of the waterways. Great care is being taken to ensure that where possible any relocated regions maintain similar surroundings as they have now and that the regions naturally fit in with the neighboring regions. In the days following region relocations, the Dream Seeker team will be visiting all regions to ensure that boundaries between sims transition seamlessly. These measures will allow the corporation to maintain key nature preservation areas within the Costa Rica Sims estate which will continue to be accessible by water from anywhere on the estate.
These measures will go a long way to eliminating the estate’s deficit and positive cash flow will be achieved once vacant parcels on the remaining regions are rented out to new residents. In the meantime Zeebster Colasanti and the Dream Seeker team extend a plea to the residents and ask them for their patience and support just as they continue to support these residents, their estate, and their community and defend them against continuing pressure from those individuals who are intent on destroying one of the most beautiful estates on the grid.
– Zeebster Colasanti, Dream Seeker Estates Corporation CEO