Tech Talk

August 17, 1998

August 31, 1998

September 4, 1998


Tech Week

Anyone secretly aching to experience the agony currently being felt by investors around the world can still get in on the current round of trading at CNN's Final Bell stock market simulation. Developed by Phoenix-based Sandbox Entertainment in 1996, Final Bell, which can be found at www.sandbox.net, is an online stock-trading simulator targeted primarily toward new investors wanting to gain valuable on-line trading experience before entering the real-world investment arena. Currently, players on the site can trade stocks from the New York Stock Exchange, American Stock Exchange and NASDAQ. The heart of Final Bell is the Play the Market trading simulation, where players worldwide compete to build the best portfolio during each three-month simulation. Portfolios accrue value according to capital gains realized from each transaction, which are conducted at the end of the day. At the termination of the round, players holding the most valuable portfolios become eligible to win prizes ranging from televisions and stereos to "Sand Dollars," or credits useable for the purchase of site-related merchandise. Other prizes are awarded daily and weekly in different categories. Recently, the site added direct access to the Nasdaq Web site, providing delayed stock and mutual fund quotes, market updates and company profiles. The site also includes access to the Nasdaq's InfoQuotes section, which provides continuous updates of the three major market indexes, as well as stock reports and analyst estimates. "Whether they're testing a new stock trading strategy or looking to sharpen their online investing skills, Final Bell should be in every smart investor's bookmark file," says Donald Bosic, vice president of Interactive Services at Nasdaq. "A realistic trading simulation like Final Bell, coupled with financial news and information from nasdaq.com and CNNfn.com, is a powerful tool for investors looking to build wealth." Nasdaq, currently the fastest growing stock market in the world, accounts for over half of all equities traded in the United States. How have Play the Market investors fared in the market's recent turmoil? Just as in the real world, a Sandbox Entertainment spokesman said players holding a large percentage of tech stocks have been hit the hardest. A quick look at the rankings for the current round, which ends on Sept. 24, indicates that the top five contenders dumped all of their stocks before the current bloodbath began. For those players wishing to participate in a more realistic, longer-term scenario, Final Bell offers PortfolioTRAC, which still sports all of the trading features found in Play the Market, but extends the exercise over a longer term. PortfolioTRAC is a "perpetual" portfolio for individual investors or groups wishing to practice trading or tracking stocks realistically over any time period. The service is well-suited for use in investment clubs, office pools or stock market classes. Final Bell currently does not use real-time trading. All buy and sell orders are processed daily using the market's next closing prices. The site is looking at live trading as a future option, but must first identify holes in such a simulation that might give some players, generally those on the east coast, an unfair advantage over others. Still, even with the delay, Play the Market offers anyone interested in learning how to trade stocks a realistic, risk-free method of learning the basic skills involved in succeeding in today's volatile markets. From research tools to investor forums to stock analysis, PTM is about as close to the action as you can get without losing your shirt. The simulation is so realistic, in fact, that players are even charged a brokerage commission fee each time they conduct a buy or sell transaction. The game simulates a "charge" of $39.95 for trades up to 1,000 shares and 4 cents per share for trades over 1,000 shares. Sandbox Entertainment also features Fantasy Baseball and Fantasy Football, where users have full control of a simulated football franchise. Players can draft a team, determine the best line-up, and play other teams from around the world. Best of all, team owners don't have to the pay the usual $110 million franchise expansion fee.


August 17, 1998

August 31, 1998

September 4, 1998