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Color Star Makes Its Next Big Move, Teams Up With Max Payne, Johnny Blaze, And Elizabeth

An ad for Color Star's NASDAQ listing on the investor page of Color Star's website.
Screenshot from Color Star's website.

Color Star, the lovable and super-real flooring company-turned-metaverse administrator that once scored an ill-fated sponsorship deal with the Philadelphia 76ers before settling for a shoulder patch on the jerseys at Villarreal, is still out here nailing down big business deals and further diversifying its already dizzyingly diversified business. It seems only yesterday that Color Star—boasting a Dubai-based in-house tech-team that had very nearly mastered the challenge of building a functioning internet slideshow, and hard-won top-level institutional expertise in the "different lasers" of concert logistics—was offloading its legacy ready-mix concrete business and jumping whole-hog into Web3 adventures, led by mysterious young CEO Sir Lucas Capetian. Two and a half years later Color Star has cycled through at least four different CEOs; has successfully joined several large pink polygonal shapes into something that could just about pass for an environment in Star Fox for the SNES, and called it the Color World metaverse; has secured a hookup for "human cloned organs"; has negotiated new strategic partnerships with several extremely not-fictional companies; and has quite possibly launched a branded smartphone. Wow!

The deals continue. On June 28, Color Star announced a global expansion of its puzzlingly vague business, which in addition to administering a digital metaverse evidently includes throwing concerts in the boring old material universe, but possibly only for digital audiences? Live events, according to Color Star CEO Louis Luo, are so back, and so it is important for Color Star to "create a strategically positioned events production matrix," which it has accomplished by entering into "strategic cooperation framework agreements" with events production outfits in the United States, the U.K., Japan, Thailand, China, and so forth. The idea, according to the press release, is to have affiliated logistics experts on the ground and at the ready "irrespective of which country a planned event is to take place in." Possibly you noticed there that the CEO is a man named Louis Luo. This is also a new development: Farhan Qadir was announced as Color Star's new CEO in August 2022, replacing co-CEOs Biao Lu and Zeb Khan, who themselves had been on the job for less than two months following Capetian's heartbreaking departure. Apparently Qadir is already out. This is all normal executive turnover, I assure you!

One of the hubs of Color Star's spreading production matrix is Dubai, which makes sense as Dubai was once the location of Color Star's vaunted tech team and its dashing young leader, Capetian, who spearheaded the metaverse project. Relatedly, Color Star recently bought up the "right, title, and interest in and to certain works, including all copyright and related rights in the works" of an Ohio-registered limited liability company called Nine Star Parties and Entertainment, according to filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Nine Star Parties and Entertainment boasts on its website that it is "Dubai's Leading Entertainment Company," and also "The Leading Entertainment Company," and says that it "provides exclusive entertainment experiences through performances." Color Star absorbed Nine Star in March for the surprisingly light sum of $3.6 million, which starts to look an awful lot lighter when you realize that this money was paid in the form of Color Star stock, which is presently worth $1.30 per share.

As is the case with so many of the outfits that get into business with Color Star, the more you investigate Nine Star Parties and Entertainment, the more cold sweat begins to cling to the collar of your t-shirt. It's not clear that Luo or anyone at Color Star or even at Nine Star has ever scrolled all the way to the bottom of Nine Star's website. It begins somewhat normally, with a working banner and a logo and some eye-catching concert photos. The "About Us" section is where things start to become uncanny. I'm not sure a skilled web developer would choose "Nine Star Increasingly Utilizes" as a header, for example:

ABOUT US Nine Star Parties & Entertainment. Nine Star Parties & Entertainment Nine Star Parties & Entertainment creates, produces and presents a variety of live productions, concerts, special events, and theatrical productions. We also represents talented artists and creators, including accomplished figures across movies, television, music, theater, podcasts, and other social and digital content. Nine Star Increasingly Utilizes Nine Star increasingly utilizes the strength of its industry relationships and live event expertise, to create performance, promotion and distribution opportunities for artists and productions that, in turn, provide new programming and promotion for our business.
Screenshot from Nine Star's website

"Meet Our Team" is where things go fully sideways. The founder of the company is Elizabeth. The director is a man named Max Payne, and the, uh, musician is a man named Johnny Blaze. Their photos do not inspire confidence that these people are what you or I would consider real. Hover over any of the images and the page presents a mini-bio, which at present is loaded with lorem ipsum text.

Founder: Elizabeth Director: Max Payne Manager: Diana Musician: Johnny Blaze
Screenshot from Nine Star's website

The impression that Nine Star might not be on the up-and-up is not helped by the fact that the featured testimonials, under the header "Our Customer Reviews," come from Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, and Kate Winslet, and that the reviews from Britney Spears and Kate Winslet have identical language, and that the headshot photos attached to the testimonials show people who are not Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, or Kate Winslet:

"In the entertainment industry, the customers are more empowered and connected than ever before and are looking for an agile and seamless solution that best fits their choices," attributed to Britney Spears.
Screenshot from Nine Star's website

An image search for this Max Payne character, who is Nine Star's Director, tells me that this enterprising fellow is also the founder of a similarly fishy company called Courier Store, but that at Courier Store he goes by the name of John Smith. He worked at Courier Store with a different mononymous Elizabeth, as well as a different mononymous Diana. He also worked there with Johnny Blaze, but back then Johnny Blaze was known by the name Steve Michael:

John Smith and Steve Michael, showing the same stock photos from the Nine Star website
Screenshot from Courier Store's website

So how did Nine Star Parties and Entertainment get hooked up with Britney Spears? Well, Max Payne/John Smith and Johnny Blaze/Steve Michael both worked closely with Britney at Courier Store, back when the uberfamous entertainer was Courier Store's director. There she is!

Britney Spears: Director Elizabeth: Secretary Diana: Marketing
Screenshot from Courier Store's website

This is a tight-knit group: Britney Spears, Kate Winslet, and Johnny Blaze/Steve Michael apparently joined Julia Roberts, Monica Bellucci, and, uh, "Natasha" on a tour with something called Chambal Boat Safari, and then gave eerily similar testimonials in Latin on that company's super-duper-real website. Also back then Johnny Blaze/Steve Michael was known as John Doe, and also Kate Winslet was identical to "Elizabeth" of Nine Star Parties and Entertainment:

Lorem ipsum reviews from Britney Spears and Kate Winslet.
Screenshot from the National Chambal Sanctuary website

Max Payne's headshot photo is also connected to a LinkedIn profile, although of course the LinkedIn person uses yet another name. This strikingly visually similar LinkedIn user has been doing Google Analytics consulting for 15 years, a profession he took up after graduating from Shanghai University of Engineering Science in 2007. Could this be the Max Payne, of Nine Star Parties and Entertainment fame? Has his ship finally come in? Defector reached out to the LinkedIn user Thursday morning—I for one have long felt that our SEO performance could be better—but has yet to hear back.

It seems probable that these are stock headshots stored in whatever developer tool was used by Nine Star (and apparently lots of other half-assed and/or half-built companies) in the building of their website, which was evidently never completed prior to the company being purchased in 2023 by Color Star. The shabbiness and opacity of Nine Star's website does raise the question of how this Ohio-registered company with a tiny online footprint found itself the premiere event organizer in Dubai, and how they made it onto the radar of a Cayman Islands-registered metaverse company with offices in lower Manhattan, but as we have already learned Color Star certainly prefers to have many irons in the fire. Color Star also recently announced a new formal relationship with a Korean metaverse company called WannaVerse, which asks visitors to its janky website to "imagine a world where you can invite your friends to a 3D house on a website."

The WannaVerse website menu has four options: "Our Vision," "The Problem," "The Solution," and "Tools." "Our Vision" leads midway down the page to a short, vague paragraph about how cool it is to have a digital avatar. Click on "The Problem" and you are sent further down the page, to a few sentences misidentifying the problem of no one giving a shit about the metaverse as a simple matter of no one understanding the metaverse:

The Metaverse industry has just begun and no one knows what it is The current major Metaverse players like Meta have failed to deliver plans for a concrete product and currently known Metaverse products are basically just games Metaverse is massively promoted by the media & big tech, yet no one can even explain what it is. It’s just a big idea that can take years to realize. Products that are existing Metaverses, such as Sandbox, Decentraland, Roblox, etc are just games. The metaverses outside the game industry are still in infant stages.
Screenshot from WannaVerse's website

Somewhat tellingly, if you click on "The Solution" or "Tools" you are taken to the bottom of the page, where there is nothing at all, no text and also no images—just a blank black expanse of wasted webpage. Perhaps this is intended as an artful commentary on the state of metaverse technology. There's also a decidedly greater-than-zero chance that this website was built in a single afternoon in response to a forthcoming press release, something it would seem to have in common with the websites of Color Star, Nine Star, Courier Store, and several other companies joined in this fascinating conglomeration.

Defector reached out to Nine Star Thursday, and did what is possible to once again contact Color Star, but without very much hope. It becomes more and more incredible over time that the Philadelphia 76ers once hosted a press conference and signing ceremony to announce a partnership with Color Star, a possibly fictional company whose main business, as far as anyone can tell, is forming up partnerships with other possibly fictional companies in order to justify firing off delightfully batshit press releases to whatever bot-run content farm will pass along the company's NASDAQ code. The latest press release, announcing the formation of this new entertainment production matrix, contains a link to a Color Star page for prospective investors. Naturally, it contains a typo, leading to a broken URL. Color Star's English-language website is still promoting tickets to a May 20 Ne-Yo concert in Thailand, despite the fact that May 20 was more than a month ago and that the concert was canceled, via an update on that same website, on May 16.

Color Star's main email address, found on the contact page of their website, contains another typo. The contact phone number, which in happier times connected to Cassie in investor relations, appears now to be just a random jumble of digits. Color Star's Chinese-language website, once described to Defector by doomed Color Star Director of Communications Douglas Menelly as the company's "primary site," has a misconfigured DNS, and as a result is inoperable. With all due respect to new soon-to-be-former Color Star CEO Louis Luo, who I'm sure is very capable and indeed maximally corporeal, this disarray never would've been allowed on Sir Capetian's watch.

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