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Welcome to EVE Online: the spaceship game where high-flyers live out their imperial fantasies | Games

As the roar of revellers reverberates around a rowdy Reykjavik, you would be forgiven for thinking this was an average Friday night. Yet among the bearded Icelanders quietly sipping their Einstök is a different kind of drinker: multiplayer spaceship game EVE Online’s intergalactic elite. On one May weekend each year, this island becomes the playground of the world’s most devoted gaming community.

For those who don’t know their Minmatar from their Caldari, EVE Online is a hugely complex player-led video game, a virtual spaceship sandbox where – in the right hands – spreadsheets are as powerful as space fleets. Its complex history has been written by its players, with numerous fascinating tales of wars, betrayals and heists. Because the developers of the game rarely interfere, EVE is an experience that often feels less like a video game and more like a libertarian social experiment. As such, it attracts an intellectual – and extremely driven – player base.

EVE’s warring player groups – or corporations – are usually confined to windows and Discord chats, yet as 350 players from 40 countries swarm this Atlantic isle, EVE’s fictional universe becomes very real. In the throng, drinks are spilled and jokes exchanged by flag-waving alliance members. By the time the last bar shuts on Fanfest’s infamous Reykjavik pub crawl, some longstanding rivalries are settled, while whispers of interstellar betrayals emerge from darkened corners.

For many of EVE Online’s 50 million players, this complex virtual world is simply another space to succeed in. Real-world experience of stock trading, marketing and graphic design make you a powerful asset to player-run corporations – and a large section of EVE’s player base are hugely successful outside the game.

“I was at Disney for a long time – 16 years,” says Dunk Dinkle, the interim CEO of Brave Collective, an in-game group with more than 8,500 members. “Now, I’m at NBC, where I oversee technology for their marketing group.” For Dinkle, EVE Online slowly morphed from a hobby into a second job, in which he presides over his ever-growing intergalactic fleet. “If you’re a leader, the game never stops,” he says. “You wake up and there’s a whole new list of problems. The Australians are mad at the Europeans, and you have to deal with it. It’s like work in that way.”

EVE Online’s most influential players often find that this complex, alluring virtual space slowly starts to claim more of their real-world time. “It’s about that balance between relaxation and responsibility. In the morning I spend 45 minutes to an hour just checking on my EVE Slacks and Discords to catch up,” Dinkle says. “I go to work, come home, and for two to three hours, I log in. When it’s a big battle, we’ll be up all night.”

For Dunk, it seems the appeal of EVE is that it isn’t just a brief distraction, a way to unwind for a while, as video games are for most players. Instead, it’s a place where his professional skills are keenly rewarded.

“A lot of those skills of being a corporate executive – going to events, conflict management, resource allocation, spreadsheets – you use in EVE,” he says. “In your professional life, it’s hard to feel those wins on a regular basis. If you’re a high achiever, you want that reward system. In television, it’s a never-ending treadmill. You always need another promo. In EVE I built this gigantic thing that not many people can. I feel a sense of accomplishment. I get that feeling in my career, sure, but not once a week.”

While EVE markets itself on jaw-dropping space battles, for the finance bros who flock to the game it’s the sophisticated simulated economy that’s the real draw. EVE is often self-deprecatingly called “spreadsheets in space”. During this year’s Fanfest, CCP announced an official partnership with Microsoft Excel, to rapturous applause.

“EVE feels like trading,” says investment guru OZ_Eve, AKA Jari Vilhjalmer. “I can pull the data, look for trends, build tools around it … I have a big Bloomberg terminal-type tool that I look at in the morning to see where the market’s at. There’s no other game where you can do that.”

EVE Online battleships
Fighting force … EVE Online battleships. Photograph: CCP

Thanks to his finance background, Vilhjalmer has become the most successful private investor in EVE, teaching other players how to accumulate via his popular Twitchstreams. “I was just playing the game to be the richest player – and I succeeded,” he says. “I can’t compete in space combat, but I can take everyone’s money.”

When it comes to wielding influence, we all know real power lies in governance – and where would a virtual society be without its own politicians? “Before I flew out here, I was trying to fight a proposal that the Senate’s pushing through. That’s how I spend the days. Then I goof off at night playing EVE Online,” says Brisc Rubal, a Virginian Maritime Union lawyer and lobbyist who served in the Bush administration.

“I’ve been in Washington for about 25 years now,” Rubal says. “I ran elections in the largest county in Virginia for two years, and that was my shtick when I first ran for EVE’s player council: I’m the real-life politician running for the EVE political body.”

Rubal’s tenure as part of EVE’s in-game council has been controversial. Elected EVE players are privy to confidential changes to the game, which means council members know crucial details that can be leveraged to influence the market and make real-world money. It’s a goldmine for insider trading – a crime of which Rubal was accused.

The scandal tarnished his real-world image, too. “My wife lost clients at work, Fox News called, the Washington Post was asking my office for comment. It was crazy. I had to explain to my 83-year-old boss why the press was calling me. ‘Well, boss, I play this video game, and got accused of some stuff, but I’m working it out.’”

Thankfully for Rubal, he did work it out. After finding the evidence to clear his name, his player account was eventually reinstated, and in 2020 he ran again – successfully.

EVE is home not just to businesspeople and politicians, it has its own spiritual leaders, too. “I have married people, I have done funerals, I have blessed babies,” says Charles White, better known as the Space Pope. At the Lessons Learned division of Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, White’s day job is to comb through fatal errors from previous space missions, publishing reports that could help save lives on the next lunar outing. He also likes dressing up in papal robes.

“It’s a lot of fun,” White smiles, with his silent, cloaked disciple sitting beside him. Coming to EVE Online at the age of 54, he found himself quickly doling out life advice to younger players. Thanks to his perceived wisdom, devotion and friendliness, a player made a meme of him as the pope. White embraced it, rocking up to his first Fanfest in full papal garb. The rest, as they say, is history.

“Because I have a high-stress job, I play a high-stress game,” says White. “It’s not this giant leap between the two. If I screw up in EVE, it’s stressful. It has the same adrenaline that keeps me going, but without the devastating consequences. I can lose an entire Keepstar [citadel] and laugh at it, and that’s what attracts me to EVE.”

It’s EVE’s unique brand of space stress that appeals to another real-life rocket scientist, Scott, better known as Ithica Hawk. While he’s hesitant to reveal too many specifics about his role in fear of “getting doxed”, he works with some pretty important satellites. While he tinkers with essential tech by day, in EVE he’s a tournament-winning space pilot, and a popular face in the community. Having hosted several events at the EVE Fanfest, Scott says the game has givenhim a confidence he didn’t know he had.

EVE Online’s mining fleet
Space industry … EVE Online’s mining fleet. Photograph: CCP

“When I was younger, I was quite shy, and now I’m on stage in front of hundreds of people and doing tournaments that are streamed to thousands. I’ve discovered that I’m very good at it, and I wouldn’t have had any chance to experience that if it wasn’t for EVE.”

As someone who has run corporations, Scott sees being able to motivate hundreds of people as one of EVE’s most important transferable skills: “That’s a huge amount of people management. It’s basically a medium-sized company, but people are paying to be there. If you’re not delivering, the whole thing will fall apart. It’s probably harder to run EVE corporations than actual businesses.”

Much like the Space Pope uses EVE to take risks he’d never dare at Nasa, another appeal of this seductive sandbox for otherwise law-abiding people is the space it makes for virtual villainy.

“Most people decide you can’t be the bad guy in real life, but in EVE you can be the bad guy,” says Rubal. “Mittani is probably the most famous player of all time, and he’s a great guy.” Alex “the Mittani” Gianturco, a Washington DC attorney, is EVE’s resident troublemaker, responsible for starting wars, orchestrating year-long espionage missions, allegedly bribing the game’s developers and leading EVE’s most fearsome alliance: Goonswarm.

“[Mittani] gets to role-play as the big mean tyrant. Ever wanted to play Darth Vader in Star Wars? Well, here you get the ability to do that. I think that’s what attracts people to EVE, too: you can do what you want in a way that you would never get away with in real life.”

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Culture

Top 10 Florida Cities Dominate The Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

Top 10 Florida Cities And Business Startup Landscape In The U.S.

The Voice Of EU | Florida emerges as a hub for entrepreneurial endeavors, with its vibrant business landscape and conducive environment for startups. Renowned for its low corporate tax rates and a high concentration of investors, the Sunshine State beckons aspiring entrepreneurs seeking fertile grounds to launch and grow their businesses.

In a recent report by WalletHub, Florida cities dominate the list of the top 10 best destinations for business startups, showcasing their resilience and economic vitality amidst challenging times.

From Orlando’s thriving market to Miami’s dynamic ecosystem, each city offers unique advantages and opportunities for entrepreneurial success. Let’s delve into the chronologically listed cities that exemplify Florida’s prominence in the business startup arena.

1. Orlando Leads the Way: Orlando emerges as the most attractive market in the U.S. for business startups, with a remarkable surge in small business establishments. WalletHub’s latest report highlights Orlando’s robust ecosystem, fostering the survival and growth of startups, buoyed by a high concentration of investors per capita.

2. Tampa Takes Second Place: Securing the second spot among large cities for business startups, Tampa boasts a favorable business environment attributed to its low corporate tax rates. The city’s ample investor presence further fortifies startups, providing essential resources for navigating the initial years of business operations.

3. Charlotte’s Diverse Industries: Claiming the third position, Charlotte stands out for its diverse industrial landscape and exceptionally low corporate taxes, enticing companies to reinvest capital. This conducive environment propels entrepreneurial endeavors, contributing to sustained economic growth.

4. Jacksonville’s Rising Profile: Jacksonville emerges as a promising destination for startups, bolstered by its favorable business climate. The city’s strategic positioning fosters entrepreneurial ventures, attracting aspiring business owners seeking growth opportunities.

5. Miami’s Entrepreneurial Hub: Miami solidifies its position as a thriving entrepreneurial hub, attracting businesses with its dynamic ecosystem and strategic location. The city’s vibrant startup culture and supportive infrastructure make it an appealing destination for ventures of all sizes.

6. Atlanta’s Economic Momentum: Atlanta’s ascent in the business startup landscape underscores its economic momentum and favorable business conditions. The city’s strategic advantages and conducive policies provide a fertile ground for entrepreneurial ventures to flourish.

7. Fort Worth’s Business-Friendly Environment: Fort Worth emerges as a prime destination for startups, offering a business-friendly environment characterized by low corporate taxes. The city’s supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives facilitate the growth and success of new ventures.

8. Austin’s Innovation Hub: Austin cements its status as an innovation hub, attracting startups with its vibrant entrepreneurial community and progressive policies. The city’s robust infrastructure and access to capital foster a conducive environment for business growth and innovation.

9. Durham’s Emerging Entrepreneurship Scene: Durham’s burgeoning entrepreneurship scene positions it as a promising destination for startups, fueled by its supportive ecosystem and strategic initiatives. The city’s collaborative culture and access to resources contribute to the success of new ventures.

10. St. Petersburg’s Thriving Business Community: St. Petersburg rounds off the top 10 with its thriving business community and supportive ecosystem for startups. The city’s strategic advantages and favorable business climate make it an attractive destination for entrepreneurial endeavors.

Despite unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Great Resignation, and high inflation, these top Florida cities remain resilient and well-equipped to overcome obstacles, offering promising opportunities for business owners and entrepreneurs alike.


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European Startup Ecosystems Awash With Gulf Investment – Here Are Some Of The Top Investors

European Startup Ecosystem Getting Flooded With Gulf Investments

The Voice Of EU | In recent years, European entrepreneurs seeking capital infusion have widened their horizons beyond the traditional American investors, increasingly turning their gaze towards the lucrative investment landscape of the Gulf region. With substantial capital reservoirs nestled within sovereign wealth funds and corporate venture capital entities, Gulf nations have emerged as compelling investors for European startups and scaleups.

According to comprehensive data from Dealroom, the influx of investment from Gulf countries into European startups soared to a staggering $3 billion in 2023, marking a remarkable 5x surge from the $627 million recorded in 2018.

This substantial injection of capital, accounting for approximately 5% of the total funding raised in the region, underscores the growing prominence of Gulf investors in European markets.

Particularly noteworthy is the significant support extended to growth-stage companies, with over two-thirds of Gulf investments in 2023 being directed towards funding rounds exceeding $100 million. This influx of capital provides a welcome boost to European companies grappling with the challenge of securing well-capitalized investors locally.

Delving deeper into the landscape, Sifted has identified the most active Gulf investors in European startups over the past two years.

Leading the pack is Aramco Ventures, headquartered in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia. Bolstered by a substantial commitment, Aramco Ventures boasts a $1.5 billion sustainability fund, alongside an additional $4 billion allocated to its venture capital arm, positioning it as a formidable player with a total investment capacity of $7 billion by 2027. With a notable presence in 17 funding rounds, Aramco Ventures has strategically invested in ventures such as Carbon Clean Solutions and ANYbotics, aligning with its focus on businesses that offer strategic value.

Following closely is Mubadala Capital, headquartered in Abu Dhabi, UAE, with an impressive tally of 13 investments in European startups over the past two years. Backed by the sovereign wealth fund Mubadala Investment Company, Mubadala Capital’s diverse investment portfolio spans private equity, venture capital, and alternative solutions. Notable investments include Klarna, TIER, and Juni, reflecting its global investment strategy across various sectors.

Ventura Capital, based in Dubai, UAE, secured its position as a key player with nine investments in European startups. With a presence in Dubai, London, and Tokyo, Ventura Capital boasts an international network of limited partners and a sector-agnostic investment approach, contributing to its noteworthy investments in companies such as Coursera and Spotify.

Qatar Investment Authority, headquartered in Doha, Qatar, has made significant inroads into the European startup ecosystem with six notable investments. As the sovereign wealth fund of Qatar, QIA’s diversified portfolio spans private and public equity, infrastructure, and real estate, with strategic investments in tech startups across healthcare, consumer, and industrial sectors.

MetaVision Dubai, a newcomer to the scene, has swiftly garnered attention with six investments in European startups. Focusing on seed to Series A startups in the metaverse and Web3 space, MetaVision raised an undisclosed fund in 2022, affirming its commitment to emerging technologies and innovative ventures.

Investcorp, headquartered in Manama, Bahrain, has solidified its presence with six investments in European startups. With a focus on mid-sized B2B businesses, Investcorp’s diverse investment strategies encompass private equity, real estate, infrastructure, and credit management, contributing to its notable investments in companies such as Terra Quantum and TruKKer.

Chimera Capital, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, rounds off the list with four strategic investments in European startups. As part of a prominent business conglomerate, Chimera Capital leverages its global reach and sector-agnostic approach to drive investments in ventures such as CMR Surgical and Neat Burger.

In conclusion, the burgeoning influx of capital from Gulf investors into European startups underscores the region’s growing appeal as a vibrant hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With key players such as Aramco Ventures, Mubadala Capital, and Ventura Capital leading the charge, European startups are poised to benefit from the strategic investments and partnerships forged with Gulf investors, propelling them towards sustained growth and success in the global market landscape.


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China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending ‘Taikonauts’ To The Moon From 2030 Onwards

China Reveals Lunar Mission

The Voice Of EU | In a bold stride towards lunar exploration, the Chinese Space Agency has unveiled its ambitious plans for a moon landing set to unfold in the 2030s. While exact timelines remain uncertain, this endeavor signals a potential resurgence of the historic space race reminiscent of the 1960s rivalry between the United States and the USSR.

China’s recent strides in lunar exploration include the deployment of three devices on the moon’s surface, coupled with the successful launch of the Queqiao-2 satellite. This satellite serves as a crucial communication link, bolstering connectivity between Earth and forthcoming missions to the moon’s far side and south pole.

Unlike the secretive approach of the Soviet Union in the past, China’s strategy leans towards transparency, albeit with a hint of mystery surrounding the finer details. Recent revelations showcase the naming and models of lunar spacecraft, steeped in cultural significance. The Mengzhou, translating to “dream ship,” will ferry three astronauts to and from the moon, while the Lanyue, meaning “embrace the moon,” will descend to the lunar surface.

Drawing inspiration from both Russian and American precedents, China’s lunar endeavor presents a novel approach. Unlike its predecessors, China will employ separate launches for the manned module and lunar lander due to the absence of colossal space shuttles. This modular approach bears semblance to SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy, reflecting a contemporary adaptation of past achievements.

Upon reaching lunar orbit, astronauts, known as “taikonauts” in Chinese, will rendezvous with the lunar lander, reminiscent of the Apollo program’s maneuvers. However, distinct engineering choices mark China’s departure from traditional lunar landing methods.

The Chinese lunar lander, while reminiscent of the Apollo Lunar Module, introduces novel features such as a single set of engines and potential reusability and advance technology. Unlike past missions where lunar modules were discarded, China’s design hints at the possibility of refueling and reuse, opening avenues for sustained lunar exploration.

China Reveals Lunar Mission: Sending 'Taikonauts' To The Moon From 2030 Onwards
A re-creation of the two Chinese spacecraft that will put ‘taikonauts’ on the moon.CSM

Despite these advancements, experts have flagged potential weaknesses, particularly regarding engine protection during landing. Nevertheless, China’s lunar aspirations remain steadfast, with plans for extensive testing and site selection underway.

Beyond planting flags and collecting rocks, China envisions establishing a permanent lunar base, the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS), ushering in a new era of international collaboration in space exploration.

While the Artemis agreements spearheaded by NASA have garnered global support, China’s lunar ambitions stand as a formidable contender in shaping the future of space exploration. In conclusion, China’s unveiling of its lunar ambitions not only marks a significant milestone in space exploration but also sets the stage for a new chapter in the ongoing saga of humanity’s quest for the cosmos. As nations vie for supremacy in space, collaboration and innovation emerge as the cornerstones of future lunar endeavors.


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