Morning Brief: The Voice Behind Video Games

It is Monday morning, and time to take a look at the latest local business news.

First meet Craig Sechler of Northwest Washington. He is the voice behind dozens of characters in interactive video games, an intriguing, sometimes eerie, always challenging subculture that is as invisible to many people as it is all-consuming to others.

"There are just two kinds of people: those who do play and those who don't," Sechler tells staff writer Ashley Halsey III. "Eventually it will be just those who do."

In other news, Herb Allison, the chief executive of District-based Fannie Mae, looked out at tens of thousands of people who had gathered on the National Mall this Saturday and declared, "This is a great day, great cause, great crowd."

He was speaking at Fannie's "Help the Homeless" walkathon. The walkathon was also a comfort this year to Fannie employees, reports staff writer Zachary Goldfarb. It has been a bruising few years for the staff, whose company has suffered wrenching losses while its stock market value drops to nearly zero.

In local development news, Douglas Jemal took more than 20 years to acquire the property he needed near Mount Vernon Triangle. He can wait for the city's go-ahead and for credit to start flowing again.

The builder who helped transform Washington's Chinatown has plans for a mixed-use project two blocks east of the convention center, bounded by 6th, 7th, K and L streets NW, but he has yet to secure financing for it.

Jemal said in an interview last week that his plan is to begin the city's approval process now and be ready to build in two or three years, potentially leapfrogging the credit freeze.

"When the market does open up, we will be ready," Jemal said. "Until then, life is going to go on."

Daisuke Enomoto says Space Adventures of Vienna used his kidney stones as an excuse to deny him a space vacation. He hopes to recoup his payment in court. (Associated Press)

Then consider the case of Daisuke Enomoto, who wants his $21 million back.

The Japanese businessman is suing Space Adventures of Vienna, saying the company used his health problems as a pretense for denying him a 10-day orbital vacation and intergalactic walk on the International Space Station after he refused to pay $10 million on top of what he had already shelled out.

Enomoto, according to court documents, believed he was racing to be the first private citizen to conduct such a space walk but did not want to go through with the trip if he could not complete one. The company, in its argument to dismiss the case, said that because Enomoto has kidney stones, which are potentially dangerous in space, his money was not refundable.

And in IPO news, Baltimore-based Metastorm has been among the firms declining to keep the market for public offerings going for now.

Earlier this month, the business software provider said in a regulatory filing that it was withdrawing its application for an $86 million stock offering. No Washington area firms have gone public this year; last year, just three did.

By Alejandro Lazo  |  November 24, 2008; 8:23 AM ET  | Category:  Economy Watch , Fannie Mae , Morning Brief
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