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Author Topic: Investing in Mircea Popescu's Options Emporium  (Read 14317 times)
copumpkin
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February 22, 2012, 07:02:16 AM
 #1

For anyone interested, mircea_popescu posted some information on stock/bond offerings for his options emporium on his blog (and on IRC) yesterday:

http://polimedia.us/trilema/2012/sa-ne-jucam-de-a-investitiile-n-bitcoini/#comment-78745

The arrangements do seem a little uncommon, so I'd be interested to see what people think of them. I've told him about this post, too, so he'll probably be following as well, although I don't think he has a forum account yet.

If you're wondering about trust, his WOT account is http://bitcoin-otc.com/viewratingdetail.php?nick=mircea_popescu&sign=ANY&type=RECV? and he has a GPG-signed statement from the WOT identity at http://polimedia.us/bitcoin/mpoe_sign.txt
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February 24, 2012, 08:59:50 PM
 #2

Trustworthy guy.

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February 25, 2012, 03:42:38 AM
 #3

That's a pretty crazy structure. I'd love to invest, because there's definitely money in it and a great need for a derivatives market (I loved playing on bitoption when it was around). But the risk reward equation for that structure is all out of whack.

For the stocks, you have no way of knowing beforehand how much of the company you are buying and how much you are paying. It seems more like an annuity. I think it should be offered through a bookbuild structure.

The bonds has limited upside and potentially unlimited downside. Usually the stockholders take a loss in full before the bond holders make any loss. In that case, I would invest. As it is, the most I can make is 2%. The most I can lose is 100%.

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February 25, 2012, 07:14:11 AM
 #4

That's a pretty crazy structure. I'd love to invest, because there's definitely money in it and a great need for a derivatives market (I loved playing on bitoption when it was around). But the risk reward equation for that structure is all out of whack.

For the stocks, you have no way of knowing beforehand how much of the company you are buying and how much you are paying. It seems more like an annuity. I think it should be offered through a bookbuild structure.

The bonds has limited upside and potentially unlimited downside. Usually the stockholders take a loss in full before the bond holders make any loss. In that case, I would invest. As it is, the most I can make is 2%. The most I can lose is 100%.

Actually it says your risk is zero as far as losses:

"Their owner(s) are not responsible for any net loss resulting from MPOE activity, but are entitled to a fraction of the net profit of each month equal to the fraction of total stocks they hold."

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February 25, 2012, 12:33:52 PM
 #5

Umm, this is non-standard options invariant
In order to play with aim to gain some money
One must develop some non-standard profitability calculator.
 It can be tricky task.

UPD. Yes , i believe  these are not vanilla options. But some sort of something. Wink


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February 25, 2012, 02:35:13 PM
 #6

That's a pretty crazy structure. I'd love to invest, because there's definitely money in it and a great need for a derivatives market (I loved playing on bitoption when it was around). But the risk reward equation for that structure is all out of whack.

For the stocks, you have no way of knowing beforehand how much of the company you are buying and how much you are paying. It seems more like an annuity. I think it should be offered through a bookbuild structure.

The bonds has limited upside and potentially unlimited downside. Usually the stockholders take a loss in full before the bond holders make any loss. In that case, I would invest. As it is, the most I can make is 2%. The most I can lose is 100%.

Actually it says your risk is zero as far as losses:

"Their owner(s) are not responsible for any net loss resulting from MPOE activity, but are entitled to a fraction of the net profit of each month equal to the fraction of total stocks they hold."

Don't buy any champagne in the winter months.

That's for the stocks. Your liability is limited to your initial investment. The problem with the stocks is even if I can value them, there's no way to be able to know what their value will be before the IPO. You can buy and hope not many other people do and it may be worth it. But if 1000 all put in 1000 BTC each, they will still only own 0.1% of the company. I'll wait until after the IPO and see what they go for on the secondary market.

Bonds are usually above stocks in the capital structure. These bonds are not.

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February 25, 2012, 02:36:18 PM
 #7

Umm, this is non-standard options invariant
In order to play with aim to gain some money
One must develop some non-standard profitability calculator.
 It can be tricky task.



Huh

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February 25, 2012, 05:40:32 PM
 #8

That's a pretty crazy structure. I'd love to invest, because there's definitely money in it and a great need for a derivatives market (I loved playing on bitoption when it was around). But the risk reward equation for that structure is all out of whack.

For the stocks, you have no way of knowing beforehand how much of the company you are buying and how much you are paying. It seems more like an annuity. I think it should be offered through a bookbuild structure.

The bonds has limited upside and potentially unlimited downside. Usually the stockholders take a loss in full before the bond holders make any loss. In that case, I would invest. As it is, the most I can make is 2%. The most I can lose is 100%.

I agree with your concerns and have also pointed them out to mircea, but he seems set on these terms Smiley I guess we'll see. Perhaps it would help if we came up with two names for the contracts that aren't stocks and bonds, because these don't necessarily behave like the conventional meanings of the terms.
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February 26, 2012, 06:42:51 AM
 #9

Interesting service. Seems fairly legitimate, and the guy has reputation. Not to mention it looks like he knows what he's doing- but why are you posting instead of him? Haven't heard of him and his service until today but he seems to be profitable. Either way it looks like he's pulling a lot of steam, so if the BTC community trusts him I guess that's good enough for me.

I think I'm going to have to keep an eye on this, seems like a very good investment.
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February 26, 2012, 04:29:50 PM
 #10

Interesting service. Seems fairly legitimate, and the guy has reputation. Not to mention it looks like he knows what he's doing- but why are you posting instead of him? Haven't heard of him and his service until today but he seems to be profitable. Either way it looks like he's pulling a lot of steam, so if the BTC community trusts him I guess that's good enough for me.

I think I'm going to have to keep an eye on this, seems like a very good investment.

He doesn't have a forum account and I thought it'd be good to get some discussion going on the forum. You should try convincing him to get on here!
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February 26, 2012, 04:53:07 PM
 #11

Не was here -- months ago.
Search for his account -- sadly i forget exact username Sad

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February 28, 2012, 10:51:35 AM
 #12

Quote
Bonds are usually above stocks in the capital structure. These
bonds are not.

This point seems to be addressed here:
http://polimedia.us/trilema/2012/sa-ne-jucam-de-a-investitiile-n-bitcoini/#comment-78897

Quote
{random_cat} oh… but my issue is that the ’stocks’ seem to be
senior to the ‘bonds’. that is all…. nothing against either particular
gamble.

[...]

{mircea_popescu} no. looky : in december we have net receipts
141.516650950 BTC payments 138.559309400 BTC. that leaves 3 ish btc to be
split. the bondholders get it all. if there was more than what the
bondholders got, it’d have been split up to shareholders, as for instance
in november : receipts 262.208804500 BTC, payments 46.154494050 BTC. this
leaves a 216 btc to be split up. bondholders get (with a 2% rate) 18.5 BTC
over their less than 1k capital. the remainder is split up to
shareholders.
{random_cat} ahh.. ahh… i was misreading the capital expenses

{mircea_popescu} yeh. the bond interest goes in there accting wise, but
otherwise, it’s … you know, bondholder’s payout. so really, to possibly
better translate this in financial english : there’s a preferred class A
which has fixed dividend and a nominal value of 1 BTC and there’s a
preferred class B which gets remainders and has no nominal value. called
bonds and stocks respectively for the hell of it.

[...]

{mircea_popescu} you’d say the fact that bond expenses are put in the
expense acct prominently doesn’t carry this point ? i mean, stocks get the
profit divided. profit is receipts-expenses. bond expenses qualify, ergo,
senior.

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February 28, 2012, 10:54:47 AM
 #13

Oh, I forgot to say:

Quote
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To whomever it may concern : MPOE-PR is the authorised agent for handling any MPOE communications on bitcointalk.org. Alternatively you can reach me directly on #bitcoin-otc.

May your pools run deep and miners cool,
Mircea Popescu
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Update:

Code:
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To whomever it may concern : MPOE-PR is the authorised agent for handling any MPOE communications on bitcointalk.org. Alternatively you can reach me directly on #bitcoin-assets.
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February 28, 2012, 12:15:13 PM
 #14

The explanation above shows how the bonds are senior in terms of income, but not in terms of capital.

Maybe I don't understand the month by month accounting system. With the "stocks" having zero nominal value and holding no reserves, the emporium can effectively go bankrupt in any given month and then be recapitalised by the bond holders the next month, but the stock-holders still receive future income.

I have another question, but I'm on otc at the moment, so I'll ask MP directly.

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February 28, 2012, 12:44:01 PM
 #15

I have another question, but I'm on otc at the moment, so I'll ask MP directly.

Quote
Session Start (#bitcoin-otc:mircea_popescu): Tue Feb 28 22:18:06 2012 1000
[22:19] Brendio: I have a question about your MPOE stock/bond offering
[22:19] mircea_popescu: shoot
[22:19] Brendio: With the bonds, I don't get how you know each month how much capital you'll need
[22:19] Brendio: before
[22:19] Brendio: hand
[22:20] mircea_popescu: you don't do it beforehand
[22:20] mircea_popescu: you do it after the month close.
[22:20] Brendio: So how will that work if investors are investing month by month?
[22:20] Brendio: or send mid month?
[22:20] mircea_popescu: i am the creditor of last resort
[22:20] mircea_popescu: so i always cover anything that's needed.
[22:21] mircea_popescu: and you can only finance full months, no matter when you send you start financing the next month
[22:21] Brendio: And if you get more suppky than demand, the too-high bidders get nix?
[22:21] mircea_popescu: when you want out you get your money at months end
[22:21] Brendio: Does it automatically reinvest?
[22:22] mircea_popescu: yes.
[22:22] mircea_popescu: on both scores.
[22:23] Brendio: if someone invests on march 15, does that count for march, or only start in april?
[22:24] mircea_popescu: starts in april, technically march 31st
[22:24] mircea_popescu: cause april starts on march 31st due to the last-friday-ends-month rule
[22:24] Brendio: and interest would be paid/credited when? end of april approx.?
[22:25] mircea_popescu: between last tick of last friday of a month and monday next.
[22:25] mircea_popescu: usually within a few hours of close.
[22:26] Brendio: and if I bid 1.99% for april, and you can fill the demand at 1.5%, I get no interest for the month, even though you've held my coins?
[22:26] mircea_popescu: yes.
[22:26] mircea_popescu: price formation goes both ways, you want to bid as little as worth it and as much as sensible.
[22:27] Brendio: hmmm. Okay. My understanding was correct. It is a very odd structure. Hard to price!
[22:27] mircea_popescu: i agree it's odd
[22:27] mircea_popescu: let me just say that i didn't do it like this for the sake of making it odd tho.
[22:28] mircea_popescu: one thing going in your favour is that the exchange uses exactly one bitcoin address, and all transactions are coded
[22:28] mircea_popescu: so you can look at the money flowing in or out, and decide.
[22:28] mircea_popescu: stock buys end in 999 bonds in 888 etc.
[22:28] mircea_popescu: so you at least get a feel for the overall volume if nothing else.
[22:29] Brendio: You structures it that way it to control your risk?
[22:29] mircea_popescu: to control everyone's risk pretty much.
[22:29] Brendio: I hadn't realised that. I thought only you would know by the emails
[22:29] mircea_popescu: basically even if the statements are made are convoluted
[22:29] mircea_popescu: at least they are absolute.
[22:30] mircea_popescu: no, you can look at 1JPvucRfu3ZzEvfBUQTJwsxMrZjeTqD6zR everything is in there.
[22:30] mircea_popescu: buys/sells/exercises of options too, for auditing purposes.
[22:30] Brendio: saves you needing to predetermine how much capital to hold
[22:31] mircea_popescu: for one, yes.
[22:31] Brendio: So, no stock holders yet ...
[22:31] mircea_popescu: there's like 4-5 buyers so far yes.
[22:31] mircea_popescu: between you and me i think the current offering is a little oversubscribed maybe.
[22:32] Brendio: whoops, got stocks and bonds mixed
[22:32] mircea_popescu: no bonds yet no.
[22:32] Brendio: no bonds yet
[22:32] mircea_popescu: but makes little sense to send bonds so early in the month.
[22:32] mircea_popescu: besides i think most of the ppl with capital are trying to figure out how to price me.
[22:32] Brendio: is there a time limit for the stocks?
[22:32] mircea_popescu: only been out a few days yet.
[22:32] mircea_popescu: nope.
[22:32] mircea_popescu: or what do you mean by time limit ?
[22:33] Brendio: To buy stocks
[22:33] mircea_popescu: there's no time limit in the sense that stocks claim to dividend is perpetual, they do not expire. however, subscriptions do expire, the current one on the 1st of march
[22:33] Brendio: just reread - Friday, the 1st of March 2012, 23:59:59 GMT,
[22:34] mircea_popescu: i intend to offer a block for 1 week each beggining of a month.
[22:34] mircea_popescu: so prolly will be another offer starting 31st of march till 7th april.
[22:34] Brendio: okay good to know. Will there be any public record of prices for which stocks are transferred, or is it all otc?
[22:34] mircea_popescu: all this will be announced with the regular (monthly) results, which also come out after close of month.
[22:35] mircea_popescu: I will do a closing of the public subscription listing the total ammt received total ammt per share and share blocks
[22:35] mircea_popescu: allocated.
[22:36] Brendio: I mean for secondary transfers, like stock market prices, as opposed to an ipo price.
[22:36] mircea_popescu: there's no way for me to ascertain price
[22:36] mircea_popescu: maybe people give it away, or trade them for blowjobs. i don't know.
[22:37] Brendio: yeah, that's what i thought. I might look out for any trading here Smiley
[22:37] mircea_popescu: some people were talking about taking it to glbse or other such places, in which case...
[22:37] mircea_popescu: im pretty sure in the end there will be price formation somehow.
[22:38] Brendio: Okay, cool, I think you've answered most of my questions. I think about it some more, but might stick to pirate's program and glbse for now ...
[22:39] mircea_popescu: one important point :
[22:39] mircea_popescu: if you bit 1.99% and i fill at 1.5 you get no interest
[22:39] mircea_popescu: BUT if the mpoe goes bad in the red, you get no loss attributed either.
[22:39] mircea_popescu: and also, do you mind if i publish this on the blog so other people can benefit by the discussion ?
[22:39] Brendio: yeah, I figured that.
[22:40] Brendio: Yeah okay. I can put it on bitcoin talk too.
[22:40] mircea_popescu: cool.

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February 28, 2012, 04:30:14 PM
 #16

I looked at this site when they first started, I thought it looked terrible (it did, and still does), I didn't know anything about the founder and just assumed it was a scam.

Is it really that popular?

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February 28, 2012, 04:32:55 PM
 #17

I looked at this site when they first started, I thought it looked terrible (it did, and still does), I didn't know anything about the founder and just assumed it was a scam.

Is it really that popular?
It works. But as you say, it certainly lacks polish, and is slightly manual (must send emails, etc).

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February 28, 2012, 04:59:40 PM
 #18

Quote
the emporium can effectively go bankrupt in any given month

MPOE can not go bankrupt. Literally.

This may sound silly on the first read, but once you take into consideration how the capital requirements are calculated it becomes apparent that in order for 100% capital loss the price of BTC needs to go both to infinity and to zero simultaneously.

Otherwise let's see an imaginary example:

MPOE has on the book 1000 Calls @5.0, 1000 Puts @5.0. Allowing that the price minimum for the month was 5.0, the capital requirements for this book are then 2000 BTC. If the price moves to 50$/BTC in this month (+1000%, significantly more than what sunk LIB.X, for instance), then the total owed on the book is 45 / 50 * 1000 = 900 BTC, which comes to a 45% loss if these options contracts were given away for free. If the option contracts were sold on average for half a BTC each then MPOE actually turns a 100 BTC profit at the end of this month, of which 40 BTC goes to the bondholders and 60 BTC to the stock holders.

The entire system is deliberately designed for stability. Not claimed stability but actual, baked in, universally verifiable, mathematically provable stability. The aim is to provide a pillar on which other BTC financials can rest and be built up, and in fact by trading with MPOE you help stabilize the BTC.

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February 28, 2012, 05:40:43 PM
 #19

Quote
I thought it looked terrible (it did, and still does), I didn't know anything about the founder and just assumed it was a scam.

There is significant risk involved in dealing with options even for the seasoned and well experienced trader. MPOE talks to the sophisticated investor with a solid understanding of what options are, how they work and what they are intended and useful for, not to the casual user inclined to "gamble" with complex financial instruments. The web interface reflects (at least in the owner's view) this general principle.

That said, it would be trivial for any interested third party to construct a prettier interface on top of the exposed functionality, and even charge users a fee for his services. It is, after all, what brokers do in everyday life. Mr. Popescu is a firm believer in community effort - the ugliness may well be deliberate.

As to your last point: there do seem to be a significant number of scammers floating about, so I can easily understand the "assume everyone's a scammer" attitude, I imagine it works well in a majority of cases. However Mircea Popescu is both well known and well respected in the bitcoin community and beyond, so this'd be one case of the minority.

The page is not terribly well known, moved a few hundred BTC last month over ~7k contracts total. It is growing steadily however, and from what I understand that was and remains the plan.

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February 28, 2012, 06:11:52 PM
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He makes up for the site's ugliness by hiring really hot PR women, right?

Beauty comes from behind.

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