Saturday, August 09, 2008

Linden Lab Appoints Frank Ambrose as SVP Global Technology

Through Bloomberg.com


"Linden Lab has hired Frank Ambrose as SVP Global Technology, according to CEO Mark Kingdon in a Bloomberg.com article this week. The move reportedly comes as part of Linden's efforts to ramp up in the face of competition from the recently launched Google Lively. Although Second
Life
is increasingly being used for collaboration and Lively seems, initially, like a social play, Linden is still hiring for competition. In addition to Ambrose, who previously oversaw network and technical infrastructure services as an SVP at AOL, taking over computer systems, Kingdon said the company would hire new sales staff to bring in more businesses to Second Life.


"Who wouldn't be concerned when Google comes after their business?" Kingdon told Bloomberg. "We want to supercharge that growth by making it more accessible."

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Saturday, February 09, 2008

ING and ABN flee Second Life

Following American early adopters Wells Fargo, AOL and Pontiac, the Dutch exodus from Second Life has started. Banking corporation ING, who initiated the Our Virtual Holland sims are withdrawing from Second Life.... Destination unknown. Residents of the OVH are now trying to make the islands survive the departure and it looks like they will be able to keep the community alive. The ING HQ in Second Life has been torn down though.

The second Dutch banker in Second Life, ABN Amro, is said to be leaving as well. The Word on the street is that they're disappointed by the level of interactivity they've gotten in Second Life and are moving on to a dedicated world on the Active Worlds platform.

For many of us this won't be a big surprise. Many bankers have entered the world of Second Life in 2007, but few have been able to find a concept which comes close to their real world activities, even though virtual economies and in particular that of Second Life are among the fastest growing economies in the world.

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Massive lay offs and the future of NVE's

Today Massively made it into my RSS feed. There's really a couple of cool Second Life residents blogging over there now. This time it's Moo Money that brings up some juicy gossip from Second Life as she writes on the ESCapists:

In a shocking blog entry today, Jeremy Flagstaff noted that the Electric Sheep Company has laid off approximately one-third of their staff, or about 22 people. It has been previously noted that ESC had to cut back on the number of islands for CSI: NY, and now both AOL Pointe and Pontiac are pulling out of Second Life. This news should come as no surprise, but it's still heartbreaking to hear that it
happened so close to Christmas.

While it is not known at this time exactly why the layoffs occurred, Jeremy speculates that they will be focusing on technology like OnRez. Joel Greenberg, whose job status is unknown at this time, announced on Twitter that ESC is shutting down their virtual ad network project. In a prophetic blog entry written last week by Rez Menoptra, he speculated on how long builds will last in virtual worlds and who will remember them.

Massively will update you with the latest news on this topic as we hear it. Stay tuned!

Most of these people we will never know, but we've seen Jeremy himself move away from the Sheep earlier this year as well as Jerry Paffendorf. Is the negative trend for Second Life we've seen in Europe now crossing to the US as well? Are we close to a dotcom-burst in the virtual world industry? I don't think so.

In november I quickly mentioned AOL's departure from Second Life, now Pontiac is joining the list of departing companies. How should we read these signs: Is it true that Second Life has proved itself unfit for business? In the case of Pontiac / Motorati I think it surely didn't.

The thing I keep saying to our clients is this: Right now Second Life is the ideal platform to experiment. It is open, and it's present, which means you can start up exploring the metaverse at relatively low cost. Try to get a feel for the technology, explore opportunities, chase ideas. Second Life makes this possible because it's free to sign up and you can put in almost any kind of data. Second Life is as open as the gates of heaven to whom believes. The feeling I get now is that most of the departing companies are not going out of business, they're moving. It's just as much tribal migration that we see in social networking sites. You explore, then find a site that better suits your needs. A lot of these companies gained experience from Second Life and are now preparing for dedicated themed worlds, based upon enterprise technology on platforms like There.com

It is a moving business we're in. The past year has seen an extreme usergrowth in Second Life, and an enormous commercial / PR drive for companies to enter virtual worlds. Now it's time to check the balance. All in all, as I wrote in my previous blogpost on the Millions of Us venue for Splenda; "It's Dozens of Them" meaning right now it's just too much of the same. We're creating presence for companies. There's an occasional immersion that goes beyond simple presence and really adds something to the industry.

Millions of Us, Lost in the Magic Forest, Electric Sheep Company, Virtual Italian Parks, and many many other MDC's have mastered the skill of building in Second Life. What they haven't got is the skill of Business Analysis.

It will take skilled consultants to translate core business to virtual representations. It will take experience and time for us to be able to build virtual venues that are fit for business and will form an extention to our daily operations. 2007 has been a year in which Second Life and virtual worlds have been a toy for marketing and communication departments, 2008 will probably see NVE's as a playhouse for IT departments and 2009 will probably be the year in which the NVE potential really sinks in, the time when the Business takes over and will use it as a medium for its core processes.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Metaverse Update November / December

Last weeks have been either too busy to blog or too quiet (i.e. I'd taken some days off to spend some quality time with the RL family), so I've lost track of a couple of new metaversal releases. Here's a couple of tidbits from the other blogs:


Ambling in Second Life

Aleister has been quite busy in the past weeks and blogged on a wide variety of topics, here's a few picks:

Another report from Ambling in SL is titled "AOL Pointe RIP", and reads:

AOL opened their AOL Pointe island in Second Life around the start of the year. I rather liked it, as I wrote back in February. However, I heard quite a lot of sniping about the site thereafter, and rarely saw much sign of an emerging SL community. By the end of the Summer I was hearing the damning "ghost sim" in relation to it. So perhaps it should come as no suprise to find that AOL have pulled out of Second Life.According to this AOL blog:

AOL Pointe was built to provide a fun and engaging place for the Second Life community. We created this experience to learn more about virtual worlds and what people like and don't like.

It has been a fun and rewarding ten months, with streaming music (Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Linkin Park, etc.), Sticky Wall contests, and Friday nights at Club AOL. We are grateful to the avatars who attended these events, as well as took advantage of places like the Centrifuge Skate Park and the Quiz Time Lounge.

We've gained a lot of insight from our participation in Second Life and we're now refocusing our efforts in virtual worlds. While we have closed AOL Pointe, you will soon be seeing more of AOL products and content across the metaverse. So stay tuned to aol.com for more information about when and where.

AOL are not the first company to follow this route, and certainly won't be the last. I would be curious to know the real story here... or rather, the full story. And what of the future? Will we see AOL3D next year? Or more dabblings in other virtual worlds, such as There or (if you want to go global) HiPiHi?I still liked the AOL build and am sorry to see them go.

AOL isn't the first company to leave Second Life but it's good to know they're still game for virtual worlds.

3PointD Crash

Another departure is even more stunning, as the one time leading metaverse blog 3PointD has collapsed without prior notice. I mean I've been bad at blogging for some time now, but Mark Wallace used to be a paid blogger. I'm wondering how the 3PointD sponsors (Electric Sheep Company) feel about their investment and publicity engine gathering metaversal dust.

KZero's metaversal marketing news

KZero's Nic Mitham must have been bought. His attention and anticipation of the arrival of Football Superstars has been incredible. Another FS snapshot series can be read here: Latest player and environment imagery from Football Superstars.

But there's more to be read at KZero:

You've been Metaversed

Where 3PointD crashed, stocks are going upward for Nick Wilson at Metaversed.com. After a hugely succesfull start up of the Things to Do group (spring 2007) there was the more or less succesfull Grid Safari (summer 2007) and a promising podcast series (Second Rant with Prokofy Neva - which sadly went down the drain. After a slight dip Metaversed came up with another smash hit, the Metanomics sessions (fall 2007) on virtual economy (allthough some argue that this is a sponsor event and you get all sorts of economy and financial hotshots telling you all about how it should be without ever having been in a virtual world themselves).

Latest addition to the Metaversed event line-up is the VBI sessions, the Virtual Business Innovators (winter 2007) which focusses on the native metaverse content creators and innovators, the "Virtual Brands" as KZero would call them. Too bad I missed the first session.

There's a downside to this though, as there's no longer room for fun sessions like the Geek Meets (not even the Gadgeteer sessions) because it's no longer attractive (sponsorwise). That's a problem when you have to make a living of blogging and depending on sponsorships. I can blog, be critical, have fun and not wonder if I can buy dinner tomorrow. Anyway, it just takes away a bit of the fun and puts a slight ? behind "objective journalism"

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