Monday, September 29, 2008

Linden Lab appoints Tom Hale as CPO

Early this morning Linden Lab, creators of Second Life, released a press statement in which they announced Tom Hale as Chief Product Officer. To Linden Lab it is the next of many steps they've taken over the past year to move Second Life from a startup to a viable, mature, business.

Linden's CEO Mark Kingdon says:

“Tom brings deep experience at every stage of the product lifecycle – from creating, launching and marketing great products to building large businesses
around them. Second Life is made up of an unusually complex array of products, and few executives have the range required to craft and execute a product strategy for such a rich, vibrant and diverse experience. Tom does. He will play a pivotal role in taking Second Life to the next level and will be a great partner for me.”

Indeed, Second Life is made of remarkable products, but most of these reside with the inworld residents. It will be Tom's job to productize the grid, splitting it up into neat customer and business-ready packages to monetize.

Read the full press release here (along with Tom's CV)

Curious to see where Second Life be going? Then join in for tonight's Metanomics session where Philip Rosedale, former CEO of Linden Lab will be attending a panel discussion on his vision for Second Life.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Philip Rosedale at Eduvere Sympoisium

Yesterday I visited the 3rd Eduverse Symposium in Amsterdam, which Sogeti Netherlands kindly sponsored. Probably one of the highlights of the long and intensive day was Philip Rosedale's talk on his dreams for Second Life.

Phil's speech started with his initial dreams for Second Life, a lush green forest world -a sort of Utopian Garden of Eden - and how it evolved to what it is right now. The good thing about stepping down as CEO from Linden Lab is, according to Phil, that he nw once again has time to work on his dreams, one of them is to bring SecondLife to the 3rd world.


His speech was passionate about how virtual worlds are easier to use as an interface to knowledge than the worldwide web. He admitted it was a troublesome experience to get to know Second Life and people would have to go through extreme pains for 7 or 8 hours to try and understand how to navigate the world, but... That's far less than the time it would take to teach a n00b how the internet works.

His second argument was that virtual worlds are cross-cultural and do not stop at language barriers whereas the internet has difficulties to overcome these barriers as it needs you to understand the language of the page to be able to navigate and understand the contents .

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Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Rosedale at Eduverse Symposium 3

With the Virtual World Conference and Expo barely underway, two conferences are lined up for Europe. Probably the biggest of these is the Virtual Worlds London edition (20-21 october), but the more promising one is happening right at my doorstep (well... practically): The 3rd Eduverse Symposium.
The Eduverse Symposium 3 is scheduled for September 23rd in Amsterdam and has an impressive line-up:

Some (like Philip Rosedale) will be present in the flesh, others will be adressing the symposium through a variety of media.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

SL's Next Gridmaster ?

What if... Usually it's pretty useless to talk about 'what ifs', and perhaps it is in this case too, but it's an opportunity.


Yesterday we received the news that Philip Rosedale is stepping down as CEO of Linden Lab, the Metaverse Service Provider (MSP) for Second Life and as far as the news goes, no successor has been named yet.


I am of the opinion (and there are others with me apparently) recognition of the fact that a big, grown-up company (which Linden Lab has now become) requires an entirely different sort of leadership then the hip, young start-up LL has been in the first years of development. Though not everyone has the same idea though, one of the contradictory views is voiced by Prokofy Neva in the comments to my previous blogpost as she writes:


"I find it really distasteful seeing all these tekkie male Internet gurus slapping each other on the back and saying "I told you so" about having Philip, the visionary, "log-off" and have "the grown-up management types" come in, as if
this is progress."
(full comment here)

Linden Lab, Headquartered in San Francisco, has grown rapidly over the past year and a half, but has been one step behind the explosive growth of Second Life for most of the time. A lot of metaversal residents still feel LL needs to improve its service, the stability of the grid and so on...


The question is:


What would you do if you were appointed Second Life's Next Gridmaster?


This almost sounds like a contest like America's Next Top Model or American Idols, but I challenge you to write down your ideas for the future of Second Life. What are the things you would change. What are the things you'd choose as keyprojects? What would the future of Second Life and Linden Lab be in your eyes?

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Rosedale logs off

Mister Second Life himself, Philip Rosedale a.k.a. Philip Linden, founder and CEO of Linden Research Inc. announced he steps down as CEO.


“I feel that the most important contributions I have made and will continue to make to Second Life are related to building both the product and the company through my direct contributions to vision, strategy, and design. As we grow, the role of our CEO will increasingly be to hire and grow the right team - to lead and help the company scale - to thousands of people and tens of millions of users of Second Life. I believe that we can hire a fantastic person in that
role, and also give me the ability to totally focus myself on the job that I do well. I bet this will be the most interesting job opening in the technology world.”

It is not that the man who brought in the idea and the streaming technology into Sansome Street, San Francisco, will be shut off from the grid entirely, According to Reuters he...


"will become chairman of the Linden Lab board when his successor is found, replacing Mitch Kapor, who will remain a board member and the company’s largest investor. Rosedale said he will also keep a full-time role at the company
working on product development and strategy."


This move comes as a surprise to many as Philip has been the real life personification of Linden Lab. Will it really change? Will Phil fade to grey as this snapshot predicted?



Though nobody is panicking, things are changing at Sansome street. By the end of 2007 we saw Cory Ondrejka leaving the buidling as well. Aleister Kronos has a pretty accurate remark about the change of flavor and Linden Lab:



There doesn't seem to be any air of panic, just the recognition that a big, grown-up company (which Linden Lab has now become) requires an entirely different sort of leadership from a hip, young start-up. I made this point (as many others did) when Cory Ondrejka left Linden Lab at the tail end of last year: "once you have a large (and largely
successful) implementation on your hands, your focus shifts from rapid innovation and heads more towards Quality of Service and effective service delivery."


Provided they get the right person - and that's a big proviso - then this should be a good thing for consumers of Linden Lab's services - that's us residents, both private and corporate. Hopefully, we will continue to see innovation and creativity from the Lab, after all Mr Rosedale is only moving within the outfit, but tempered with the skills needed to deliver a customer-centric, high quality service. Well... I can hope, can't I?


The question is, who's going to be the new man? I do know a couple of candidates...

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Breaking News: Linden Lab to Open server code

One of the main questions in (Second) Life is when Linden Lab finally goes open source. In this article I wrote:

Linden loves Open Source

Linden Lab did
react to the user comments by stating:‘we’d dearly like to open-source the servers’

Which sounds pretty hopefull, but...


‘The big problem is that in the current architecture, servers are trusted. Identity information, ownership information — all that is stored on the servers, and in a closed-source, behind-the-firewall environment, we can communicate between the servers securely. Trust, identity, connectedness — all of these are huge problems.’

However, I've already seen infrastructure designs that would make this possible. The plan is on the table, so please don't hesitate to make it happen.


Wéll, it seems they've taken swift action, according to this Information Week article Linden Lab is planning to open up the servercode for Second Life in before 2009.
Miller said Second Life in 2009 will change from one grid to multiple grids. Linden Lab said in April it plans to open-source the Second Life server. The company open-sourced the client a year ago. Next year, users will be able to run their own Second Life servers, optionally behind a firewall or temporarily, for an individual event. Residents will be able to bring the same identity with them from one private Second Life grid to another.

I think in their eagerness the guys from SL Review misread the article, as they wrote:
"Linden Lab said in April it plans to open-source the Second Life server. The company open-sourced the client a year ago. Next year, users will be able to run their own Second Life servers, optionally behind a firewall or temporarily, for an individual event. Residents will be able to bring the same identity with them from one private Second Life grid to another."

What I think happened here is that they read April. This is about the 2009 architecture, Mitch Wagner wrote about april 07 when Linden Lab first spoke of their ideas to go open source. Prokofy Neva was probably right as she suggested the departure of Corey Ondrejka as CTO of Second Life in December was probably because of differences over the speed of going open source. I think she thought Corey wanted to speed up, and maybe she's right. Corey might have wanted the grid to open up sooner and Phil had his second thoughts about that. Anyway, we'll have to wait, but we'll get there.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Philip Rosedale at the Davos conference

One of the hottest tech events these days is the World Economic Forum in Davos. Through twitter I've received a lot of updates, especially through Robert Scobleizer's stream. Seems like things get pretty seesmic over there.



One of the interesting points from a Second Life point of view was Adam Pasick of Reuters' interview with Philip Rosedale, CEO of Linden Labs. The interview touched some interesting topics and even though Philip tried his best to stay as political as possible, some to the point questions resulted in some interesting answers (as summarized by Digado)

…HTML in Second Life

“Maybe, quite possibly in the next couple of months. Not on the main grid but in a close to ‘finished’ state so…. May 2008. Definitely.”

…People leaving second Life soon after Signing Up

On the question whether Philip regrets seeing so many people leave Second Life close after they signed up he told Adam he did. He tells us he would have loved to step in a time machine, go back, and change things before they left. But he also says the problem was or is twofold. One is obviously the software, Linden Labs ‘part of the deal’ - and then there is the community, responsible for the content of Second Life. The content of Second Life wasn’t appealing enough to these people either to keep them from leaving, but he is confident this will change in the future as he talks about media the media coverage of 2006.

…the media hype

Philip goes on to say the media has created a ‘too pretty picture’ - thats why many people came into Second Life to early, and left when they were faced with disappointment. Second Life has not been able to live up to the High expectations but Philip was confident these people will return once they find Second Life offers more applications, and is able to meet at least some of these users in their expectations. He continues to say we will see more Hype Cycles because of this every 12 to 18 months for the next 5 years.

…Signfarms

Sounds like Prokofy has been calling in, and Philip says: I don’t care. Well spoken Philip.

…Copyright issues

Technical rights management is not too difficult, he claims it is within the range of Linden Labs capabilities at the moment. What will take time is to implement these rules and get them right. He wants to make certain he doesn’t underestimate the issue of ‘Content Right Control’ and is well aware Linden Labs is on an experimental level here.

The complete interview can be found on Reuters and is well worth a listen.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Phil's pick on Virtual Business

Wednesday, January 9 Philip Rosedale wrote Year-end Updates, and thanks for the Emmy! on the Second Life blog. One particular paragraph interested me:

"There has been lots of speculation and skepticism in the media regarding the success that businesses are having in-world. I’d like to point out that most of the most visible media coverage has focused narrowly on attempts to use SL
for brand marketing.

In reality, the majority of the business use we are seeing now in SL is focused on meetings and collaboration, and is rapidly increasing as more companies discover the efficiencies and unique capabilities that working together in a virtual world can offer. As I’ve said in the past, I think Second Life is going through a natural evolution which mirrors other new communications mediums, as individual early adopter usage shifts to include education and work collaboration. As far as we can tell, education and work use is now growing at a larger relative rate than the overall growth of SL, so we can expect to see lots more of it in-world."

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Monday, December 17, 2007

How linden lost its Core

On December 11 there was a glitch in the Metaverse as Linden Lab crashed the core of Second Life: Corey Ondrejka had left the building. Immediately a stream of rumours began to appear in the blogosphere, good for 4.500 + hits on the search "Ondrejka + Fired" at Google within a week.


The official reading is that Corey thinks its time to look for a new challenge after a couple of hectic years at Linden Lab. The word on the street however says that he disagrees with the man upfront on the future of Second Life. This disagreement could lead to a departure on friendly terms, but judging from an email that popped up at Massively the general consencus is that he was fired:



Trying to sum up 7 years of work at Linden is an impossible task. All nighters at the Linden Street office. Gaining 20 pounds but then losing 70. Flying 350,000 miles on Linden travel. Recruiting and hiring many of you. Creating a programming language that now had 2.5 billion lines of code written in it – note to self, next time spend more than one night designing language. Changing the world.


It has been an absolute thrill working with all of you on Second Life. When Philip looked across a rickety card table in November of 2000 and told me that we would do more than build a great product, we needed to build a great company, too, I knew it would be a wild ride. Through the peaks and the valleys, Philip's ideas challenged and inspired me. They often led to solutions I would never have considered and helped to make Second Life what it is today.


I continue to believe in both Second Life and Linden Lab, but Philip and my visions for the future of Linden Lab are divergent enough that he decided to lead in his own way. While I will miss all of you, I have confidence in
engineering - in all of you - to adapt and excel going forward. You are a phenomenal collection of talents and I know that both Linden Lab and Second Life will be hugely successful.


Valleywag, which first reported on the separation on Tuesday, says that Ondrejka was fired over the same differences of opinion that Ondrejka mentions in his email (especially the last paragraph).


Philip Rosedale responded:



"I can confirm that Cory Ondrejka, CTO, will be leaving Linden Lab at the end of this year, in order to pursue new professional challenges outside the company. I wanted to take this opportunity to publicly thank Cory for his tremendous contribution to the company and to Second Life, in terms of its original vision and ongoing progress.


As it grows, the needs of our company are changing, and
the role of CTO, or technical lead, has also evolved. herefore, Cory and I are in agreement that our paths, at this point in time at least, lie in different directions.


During Cory's tenure the engineering team has grown tremendously, and given the breadth and depth of our technical expertise, we do not foresee any impact on our development plans. Together, we've produced great things in the development of Second Life, and I know Cory will go on to achieve excellence in his chosen field."


Which, according to massively is a basic formula of saying "we fired him". This gets fuelled after (again) massively obtains an internal Linden Lab email reading:




8:47pm EST] I have obtained a copy of Philip's email that he sent to his employees, which you can read after the jump


...Cory is going to leave LL. He has been with us for 7 years, and was the fourth person to join. So this is a big deal. Cory has been a huge part of the company, having
designed big parts of SL, hired many people, contributed greatly to the culture, and given a powerful voice to SL and LL. Among other things, he had the original design idea for the love machine, single handedly wrote the scripting language, and got us all doing A&Os back in 2001. Losing him will be hard for the company. I will miss him a lot.


What's worse is that ultimately his leaving is my decision.Cory and I have differences in how we think Linden should be run, differences that in the past few months have become irreconcilable. These are tensions that were more manageable when we were smaller, and there have been times that they have helped us do great work together. But now, as we change and grow as a company, I feel that we need a different set of strengths in engineering leadership.


I strongly believe that this is the right decision, although not without pain, for both LL and Cory. Of course, I'm not going to go into the details of these differences. This is one of those times when, in having me as your leader, you will also have to trust me in my decision. I will hold a brown bag as soon as possible to talk about this with anyone who would like, and will schedule time both in-world and in person here in San Francisco.



Please send any external questions you get about this change to Robin who will make sure they get answered.


Philip


What will be the effect of this sudden departure? The large majority reads it as a bad omen. Tateru Nino writes:


If you asked me this-morning, "Who can Linden Lab least afford to lose" my answer would have been simple: Cory Ondrejka and Robin Harper. At least (sitting on the outside here), every other member of staff seems to be replaceable.

I tend to disagree and go with the other reading, which was clearly voiced at Ambling in Second Life:


As a friend of mine put it, small companies need uber-hackers - they ignite the process, build innovative solutions and get you up and running quickly. I may be doing Cory a disservice, but it seems to me he fits into this category. However, once you have a large (and largely successful) implementation on your hands, your focus shifts from rapid innovation and heads more towards Quality of Service and effective service delivery. The skills for
this sort of role are quite different, and this may be where Rosedale has identified a key weakness. God knows, most of us are aware that this has been a key weakness!

Second Life has exploded over the last year, from 500K registered users in August 2006 to 11 million now. Scalability and Stability of the grid has been an issue and resulted in the Project Open Letter initiative, a call for more stability by hundreds of residents. Linden Lab has done a good job on these issues in the last six months though, as the grid capacity for concurrent logins has been doubled from 30 to 60K and with Havok 4 to be implemented on the main grid soon, the issue of stability will be largely addressed as well.


If this would do the trick for Second Life, it would put Corey into the driving seat. But when you put it into the perspective of Mark Lentczner's (Zero Linden) vision for Second Life, it falls short massively:


(Headlines from Zero Linden's office hours, posted by Dizzy Banjo on Soundtracking Virtual Worlds)



  • Linden are not just talking about the sim limits we have now - they are talking truly epic scale: "to evolve the SL architecture into something that is internet wide."

  • Transition to "SL2.0" is being designed to be as seamless as possible.

  • Now for the numbers: 60Million regions; 2Billion avatar accounts; maybe 50M to 100M on-line... though admittedly hypothetical

  • And "on-line might mean something more lightweight in the future"

To achieve this, it seems pretty obvious that coding Second Life needs a different approach. With Linden Lab slowly turning away from that cowboy TAO approach and slowly implementing a more structured approach to avoid the issues that have angered the crowd in the past there would be no room for a rogue-programming approach to Second Life.


Now the speculative part. Would Mark Lentcner be LL's new CTO? I think he would be a good choice, as he is actively communicating with the Second Life community he has credit there. The only problem is, what is it with Second Life and Eastern European names? (Ondrejka out, but Zdanowski and Letcner and whathaveyougot...)

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Topmodel fundraising in SL for Red Cross

Last week we saw the MacArthur foundation and Philip Rosedale, Linden Labs' CEO talk on philantrophy in virtual worlds. Instead of talking, the Dutch are doing ;)
The Dutch Red Cross will start fundraising in Second Life today. Yfke Sturm, 0ne of the many Dutch Topmodels and Red Cross ambassador will be giving a pressconference today to launch the campaign.

A short press statement at SecondLife Blogo (in Dutch) says the Red Cross is an organisation which is very aware of the developments in the Real Life community and therefor is convinced that a precense in Second Life has to be established as well. Researchers and students at the University of Amsterdam have helped the Red Cross to establish themselves.

This week (june 24 to 30) will see door to door fundraising activities in the Netherlands.

From: Secondlife Blogo

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Sunday, June 24, 2007

Happy Anniversary SL

Today's the 4th anniversary for Second Life. Today and the week to come will see many festivities that will surely need blogging.

Anyway, Phil; here's my anniversary wish for you: I congrat you on the past 4 years and wish all the luck for years to come. May SL grow and prosper, find stability and innovation.

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Saturday, June 23, 2007

MacArthur Foundation: Philantrophy in Virtual Worlds

Yesterday night was kind of hectic and I only had time to put up some hiccups on the Philantrophy event. However, I think it's not fair to only put up what went wrong.

Jonathan Fanton, President of the MacArthur Foundation, and Philip Rosedale, CEO of Linden Lab, appeared in Second Life to talk about the future role of philanthropy in virtual worlds


A recording of the event can be found at the MacArthur site for Digital Media and learning here. Fanton laid emphasis on Africa - developing access, connectivity, and bringing Second Life and technological advance there, much like Desmond Tutu did last week at Reuters.

There's an excellent report over at Ugotrade and Prokofy Neva gives Philantrophy in our present day situation a thorough look and thinks that we need a new kind of Philantrophy; "because the old philanthrophy, like the old media and the old industries and businesses are going by the wayside."

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Friday, June 22, 2007

SL crashes on Phil

Tonight my first stop is the discussion on Gooddoers in Virtual Worlds, here's the announcement:

"Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale to join MacArthur Foundation President Jonathan Fanton in a discussion about the role of philanthropy in virtual worlds

USC ANNENBERG PUBLIC DIPLOMACY ISLAND – On June 22, 9 am SLT, Linden Lab CEO Philip Rosedale will join MacArthur Foundation President Jonathan Fanton for a discussion about the role of philanthropy in virtual worlds, hosted by USC Annenberg Public Diplomacy Island" (full article)

For the occasion 4 sims were put together and cleared of all obsolete prims with an auditorium filled to the brim on 4 sims housing a total of over 200 visitors.

Well, the stands were full and then it happened... SL crashed on Phil! Here's the juicy detail:

[9:19] Komuso Tokugawa: Can people PLEASE remove all their scripted attachments and bling killers...it all helps to reduce server lag and give everbody a better experience in fps
[9:19] Echo Cooke shouts: Iadora.. pretty Much everyone is stuck.. the sim has 100 people on each side of the arena.. just please be patient
[9:19] Somatika Xiao: Server lag right now is all networking....
[9:19] Alan Innis: /can someone tell me where the speakers are?
[9:20] Ruby Glitter: Alan,they are in teh center of the auditorium.
[9:20] Rik Riel: /president of Macrthur and Philip Linden
[9:20] Somatika Xiao: for the most part atleast...
[9:20] Walker Moore: centre of the arena is where the speakers are located. =)
[9:20] Alan Innis: /I don't see anyone there Ruby!
[9:20] Fursa Zenovka: excuseme. How d I it dwn?
[9:20] Komuso Tokugawa: no
[9:20] Walker Moore: busy sim/rez issues no doubt. =)
[9:20] Fursa Zenovka: sit down
[9:21] Patchouli Woollahra: You may experience problems looking at other avatars in regions where more than 30-50 avatars are around you!
[9:21] Frank Foley: right click
[9:21] Patchouli Woollahra: be assured, if they are talking, they are talking.
[9:21] Patchouli Woollahra: turn on your Music bar!
[9:22] Slightly Bligh: turn on the mustic to hear the speakers
[9:22] AJ Brooks: Where is Philip's avatar?
[9:22] Hannah Hannya: turn on music and turn off video to hear real time conversation
[9:22] Slightly Bligh: turn off the video
[9:22] Echo Cooke: Jeanrem the discussion has started.. turn OFF the video
[9:22] Echo Cooke shouts: Turn Video OFF and Music ON
[9:22] Reina Beaumont: role of schools, to actually teach for a change
[9:22] Komuso Tokugawa: it's not a matinee show jeanram;-)
[9:22] Sitearm Madonna shouts: Hi All! Philip Avatar crashed but Philip Voice is LiVE.. be sure MUSIC ON
[9:23] Patchouli Woollahra: I see, Sitearm.
[9:23] Komuso Tokugawa: Priceless! -> Hi All! Philip Avatar crashed but Philip Voice is LiVE.. be sure MUSIC ON
[9:23] Somatika Xiao: heh.... SL crashed on Philip... that is awsome...
[9:23] Hannah Hannya: rofl
[9:23] Ruby Glitter: I love it.
[9:23] Calm Ashton: lol
[9:23] Reina Beaumont: that's SL'sonly thing that truly works, crashing!
[9:23] In Kenzo: equal opportunity platform ;-P
[9:23] JJ Drinkwater: "Learning Experience"
[9:23] Ruby Glitter: It's actually kind of comfporting to knwo it works just as bad for him
as for the rest of us. ;-)


Well, trust me, Phil wasn't the only ones having troubles. But the sims should really have been maxed out.
The event soon became too laggy for me so I went out for a quick bite. Anyway, it's the first time me and Phil are framed in the same snapshot. I must tell you though that in real life he's a lot more colorful. This greyishness was only the result of way too many peeps on the show.

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