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Wednesday, 12 February, 2003, 15:42 GMT
Celebdaq proves addictive
Celebdaq
Follow the fortunes of your favourite star
Celebdaq, a website based around selling fictional shares in celebrities, has become one of the most talked about websites. Its popularity is set to grow thanks to a tie-in programme on the new BBC Three digital television channel.


You may have recently been asked by a friend, colleague or loved one whether you have become acquainted with 'that Celebdaq thing'.

This feverishly addictive web-based "celebrity stockmarket" was launched in mid-2002, and players now number around 70,000.

Patrick O'Connell
Patrick O'Connell hosts the TV show
Bearing similarities to the 1990s Fantasy Football phenomenon, Celebdaq is set to go from strength to strength with the aid of a TV tie-in programme on the newly-launched BBC Three.

Players are given virtual money to spend in a virtual stockmarket where the shares are in real celebrities.

You can buy stock in any of 250 actors, musicians, sportsmen and the inexplicably famous (Tara Palmer-Tompkinson, for example), and dividends are paid out weekly according to the amount of newspaper coverage each star generates.

The value of shares is entirely dependent on punters' demand.

So to avoid losing money and earn the chance to cash in later, the trick is to keep an eye on upcoming tabloid tales and then buy stock in personalities before they hit the headlines.

Celebdaq is not the first website of its kind. Popex.com has been 'trading' in musicians since 1998, whilst the Hollywood Stock Exchange allows investors to buy and sell stocks and bonds both in films and the performers they feature.

Zeta Jones
Zeta Jones: Is her stock up or down?
But what it lacks in originality, Celebdaq makes up for in ease-of-use and an extremely well-designed interface.

The website's mock tone of financial seriousness is so steadfast as to be almost unnerving.

The nature of the gameplay - share prices fluctuate continuously around the clock - makes it an ideal diversion for bored office workers to dip into briefly at regular intervals.

There is a small monthly cash prize for the most successful participant, but the real satisfaction comes from trouncing other people.

As Patrick O'Connell, real-life stock exchange expert and presenter of the TV show explains: "You can win the acclaim of beating 70,000 people, some of whom you know, and you also win a stripy jacket like the ones people wear on the floor of the stock exchange."

Trial attempts - purely for research purposes - revealed that shares in a completely random selection of celebrities made more money over a week than a carefully chosen group of potential headline-grabbers.

Although devotees swear there is a fine art to winning.

Celebdaq's popularity is another worrying indictment of society's unhealthy obsession with the rich and famous, but even celeb-haters may find it hard to resist investing in a portfolio.


BBC Three debut

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12 Feb 03 | Entertainment
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