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Popex was a free Internet-based game in which players, using virtual money, bought "shares" of musicians and bands, similar to a stock market. Upon signing up players were given 5,000 popex pounds to start trading on the stock market. As demand for bands rose and fell, based on their popularity and chart performance, so did their price. The real-time price fluctuations of the artists were shown in the 'control panel' and also by numerous charts on the individual artists' pages. 24hr summaries of the biggest risers and fallers were shown on the (largely redundant but highly popular) shakers and movers (S&M) chart. Each week "dividends" were paid out based on real world performance of those musicians and bands. Once a punter had earned 1 million popex pounds, their disposable wealth was reduced to 10,000 pounds and rewarded with a shiny silver gong to represent a million in the bank. This was accompanied by a congratulatory message from the site's creator for completing a lap in the grand prix of pop. The best 40 players were recorded in the 'rich-list' on the comprehensive stats pages. Occasionally prizes like compact discs and shirts were given out to those who performed best. As of June 2005, over 150,000 people belonged to the site, which was based in London, United Kingdom.
It was built by Paul Clarke as a hobby website, was acquired by FortuneCity in October 1999 and then Channelfly in February 2001, taking its creator with it each time. The BBC licensed the code for the game to make their own version known as Celebdaq, for which Clarke and the BBC won a BAFTA award. For most of its life, the website was run on a server affectionately known as "The Beast" for its lack of any sort of processing power and propensity to stop working the second anyone left the room. A holiday for Clarke often meant a break from the game for users of the site too.
At midnight on Monday 7 August 2006, Popex ceased trading.