I’m a ball of emotion tonight as I read on Linden Lab’s Official Blog that the founder of Second Life Philip Rosedale has decided to leave Linden Lab. The decision comes about a year after Rosedale passed the CEO position over to Mark Kingdon and took over as Chairman of the Board. Rosedale claims that he will continue his role as Chairman and all that the change really means is that he will no longer be working full time at Linden Lab and will be restricted to “outbound and media type things.” Instead, Rosedale will be working on a new company that he says is Second Life centric.
“I’m starting a new company, and wanted to let you know. It’s a big idea – something that actually depends on Second Life existing to get started, and that I have been thinking about almost as long as I’ve been thinking about Second Life. I don’t want to try to explain the idea here, because it is a decision I’ve just made and honestly I don’t think I can do a good job describing it yet. But I did want to tell the whole SL community, because I don’t want you to worry that anything is wrong.”
Though Philip did not give us much to speculate on, my best guess is that it is related to “The Rig” which is what Philip actually started Linden Lab to develop and he has talked about numerous times. “The Rig” refers to a contraption based on haptic technology that could be used as a body-driven interface. In 2008, original Second Life investor and Linden Lab board member Mitch Kapor unveiled Handsfree 3D and demonstrated how it could be used to control virtual worlds (specifically Second Life) without a keyboard or mouse. Kapor later said that project was discontinued. Since then Microsoft introduced Project Natal and provided proof of concept that a body-driven interface not only was completely possible, but also inexpensive to the user as it is expected to cost only $50 USD. At E3 2009, Lionhead introduced their Project Natal-enabled interactive character named Milo. The demo is quite amazing.
With technology having advanced so much since Philip last concentrated on “The Rig” if he does indeed base his new company on this type of technology, I can’t wait to see what he comes up with. Until we know more, Philip says we can find him at a new location not surprisingly in-world.
“I’ve got a new island in-world – it’s called ‘P Squared’. I’m thinking it can become a sort of extended space for my new work life. Please come and visit, and don’t be surprised if I give you something to do.”
Many of us have gathered there (SLURL TELEPORT LINK). Some mourning, some celebrating, some full of intrigue and excitement. Whatever you are feeling, with the diverse microcosm of SL residents gathered there, all of us having been changed in some way by Second Life, you can’t help but feel the energy that Philip must have felt when first creating the virtual world.
As for the future of Second Life, Rosedale says he feels that the virtual world is safe in the hands of Mark Kingdon and the other Lindens, though he doesn’t always agree with them.
“It’s like when your teenagers leave home – of course you still worry and wish they would listen to you more! But at some point you believe that they are safe enough to live on their own. I believe that the mission of building the digital world is safe in the hands of the Lindens, which means that I can start working again at full intensity on this new project. It’s very exciting.”
How this will effect the virtual world and its residents remains to be seen, and though I am sad to see this chapter close, I am anxiously eager and excited to see what the future holds.