Ann Arbor’s BodegaBid Bets There’s Real Profit in Virtual Currency

11/8/10

Mark Sendo of Ann Arbor, MI, is not into reality. Oh, the founder and CEO of BodegaBid says he briefly tried reality last spring, when his company partnered with a Seattle startup called Beer2Buds and let holders of virtual cash buy their friends a beer in the real world.

But the three-year-old BodegaBid ended that partnership, Sendo says. It’s not that reality wasn’t working out. It’s just that Sendo wanted to clearly define BodegaBid’s niche, and right now it’s all virtual.

“The problem is that it’s off our focus,” Sendo says of his six-person startup’s brief foray into exchanging virtual cash for real beer. “We know what we want to do and we just need to focus on signing game developers and building a marketplace that creates liquidity.”

So, BodegaBid is sticking to trading in virtual goods, enabling social gamers who earn virtual currency in one game to spend it in other games, or to trade virtual goods—like, say, a tractor in FarmVille—for currency that is accepted in other games.

In FarmVille, for example, says Sendo, people spend a lot of time building farms, nurturing crops, watering gardens, and when they’re done in that game…well, they’re done.

“All that time they’ve spent in developing, and money, is wasted,” Sendo says. “So, basically, what we do is we facilitate the transfer of virtual goods from one user to another in a marketplace.”

The thing is, game developers have to agree to participate in Bodega’s virtual currency program. So far, Bodega has signed on Ayogo, a Vancouver, Canada-based game developer, and China-based Memoriki. Ayogo has a game called “City of Ash” for the iPhone and iPod Touch. All of Ayogo’s virtual items can be traded in for “Bodega Credits” on Facebook. Memoriki has a Facebook game called Happy … Next Page »

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  • Joe

    Mark Sendo has not changed. He is a full blown con-man by nature and will always be a terrible human being. Just ask any of the countless investors, employees, and customers he has scammed over the years. In regards to Bodega, they already tried operating strictly as a virtual only marketplace just last year and failed. Just type in “bodega virtual goods news” or “bodega techcrunch” in a search engine to read articles about how Sendo was setting up the company to sell other company’s games virtual items without their permission and allowing users to trade them in for real cash (illegal gambling). Bodega has had many different business models and they have all failed miserably. I repeat, do NOT do business with this man.

  • Michigander

    Did Xconomy research Sendo and his love affair with SEC?

    http://www.sec.gov/litigation/litreleases/lr17166.htm

    The Securities and Exchange Commission announced today that on September 28, 2001, it filed civil charges against Internet Money.com, Inc. (iMC) and its largest shareholder and former CEO, Mark Sendo, a 39 year old resident of Ann Arbor, Michigan, with fraud in the offer and sale of iMC stock. iMC is an Ann Arbor based start-up company that purportedly is developing a secure Internet payment device. The Commission’s Complaint alleges that, from at least December 1999 until March 2001, iMC and Sendo raised at least $440,500 through the sale of common stock to at least 23 investors. The Complaint alleges that iMC and Sendo made false and misleading statements in business plans provided to potential investors about the individuals associated with iMC. First, iMC falsely represented that various high profile figures in the Internet and “payment systems” industries had invested in iMC, served on iMC’s Board of Directors or were a part of iMC’s management team. These misrepresentations were designed to provide potential investors with the impression that highly successful business executives were guiding the development of iMC when, in fact, Sendo directed iMC’s operations. Second, iMC’s offering materials present a misleading portrayal of Sendo. Sendo is described in offering materials as a successful professional who worked for highly reputable brokerage firms. The offering materials, however, do not disclose that Sendo pled guilty to federal criminal wire fraud charges and was enjoined in a Commission enforcement action for his role in a securities fraud.

    The Commission seeks injunctive relief against iMC and Sendo for violations of Section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933, Section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, and Rule 10b-5 promulgated thereunder, and civil penalties against Sendo.

    For tips on how to avoid Internet “pump-and-dump” stock manipulation schemes, visit http://www.sec.gov/investor/online/pump.htm. For more information about Internet fraud, visit http://www.sec.gov/divisions/enforce/internetenforce.htm.

    To report suspicious activity involving possible Internet fraud, visit http://www.sec.gov/complaint.shtml.

  • http://www.xconomy.com/author/hlovy/ Howard Lovy

    Yes, if you read the story, Sendo’s troubles with the SEC are addressed and Sendo is given a chance to address them. The reason I chose to profile BodegaBid was its recent recognition at the TiE Midwest Awards. I was not aware of Sendo’s troubles with the SEC until after I started researching the article. So, I mentioned it and gave him a chance to respond. I suppose a larger question is whether a past mistake, for which Sendo has paid, should bar him from launching any future business. For how many years, exactly, should one pay?

  • Shashi

    I agree with Howard.

    I am working with mark from last one year and I have found very honest and transparent person.

    About bodega, I have seen it very promising. Facebook and other social networks do change their business models and strategies so the company needs to change its model also as per them, there is nothing wrong in it. Is it?