The Second Life 7th Birthday celebration kicked off this morning with an address from Linden Lab founder, SL creator, and current Chairman of the Board – Philip Rosedale (aka Philip Linden). In his opening speech, Philip made several key points (emphasis added):
1. Philip Has No Regrets
I sat and thought about this 7th year of operation — you know, for me, it is, of course more than 10 years… I would say that those 10 years have been an incredibly hard. They’ve had incredible moments of frustration. But they’ve also been incredibly rewarding and inspiring and I wouldn’t take back any of it or even do anything differently… I think what we’ve achieved here is a magnificent accomplishment together — all of us, the Lindens, the Residents, the Lindens that aren’t with us anymore — we’ve all worked together to build something just incredible. And I wouldn’t even take any chance at anything that might mess it up, it’s unbelievable what we’ve achieved.
2. Linden Lab Has Only Good Intentions
We have tried, as a company — because we’ve been so excited about virtual reality, about what we’ve already accomplished together, what we’ve seen everyone do, what we’ve seen you guys do — it’s been so exciting that we have tried to fix it all at once.. it’s all done out of enthusiasm, it’s done out of excitement, it’s done out of love for the world. And everything and everyone that’s in it. But I think the challenge we’ve had is that over and over again, we’ve been this small, smallish company trying to work on something that is just unbelievably complicated and figuring out how to restrict and serialize and sequence and prioritize all of these different pieces has been a huge problem.
3. Keeping Second Life Safe is Top Priority
We sadly reduced the size of the company by about a third — by about 100 people a week ago, and that’s a big deal and a huge change… We’re never going to — as a company — risk the world and the businesses and the livelihoods of the thousands of people who make money working here by growing too quickly ahead of profits. By doing the difficult process of restructuring the company and making layoffs, we’ll return ourselves to solid, very solid levels of profitability. We’re safe, the world is safe.
4. Linden Lab is Getting Back To Basics (aka SL is a medieval city)
Second Life is this wonderful, beautiful city — once you’re in it and you’re having this amazing immersive experience, you’re just totally blown away by it. But the city itself is surrounded by huge walls and a moat. It’s like a medieval city. To actually get into it you have to invest an enormous amount of time and energy getting across that moat, and over the walls, and into this amazing new world of people inside that are waiting inside. And I think that in our excitement about the success of Second Life — in its amazing initial growth and the amazing things that you guys have done and that we’ve done together — we were getting ahead of ourselves a bit as a company and this is what we really talked about in this restructuring. We were building these sort of rickety — we were in many cases building these bridges and scaffoldings that sought to get different types of people across that moat and over those walls, whether we’re talking about international Residents, or the community welcome areas, or enterprise or education users — we’ve been sort of building these little, thin bridges that try and quickly get everybody kind of over that wall and into Second Life. And of course, you can understand why we’d do that, because it’s just so fantastic an experience once we can get people there.
But I think what we have to do — what I know is the kind of thinking that’s informing our planning process going forward — is ask whether instead we can stop doing those many, many peripheral, highly usage-specific things to get people in here — and instead just take a step back, look at the basic problems that we are all faced by, and by fixing them, fill the moat. Tear down the walls. Stop trying to build over them. We have a product here that can deliver an unbelievable experience to everyone if we simply make the basic pieces of that experience work. Whether we’re talking about how many people can stand together in a meeting like this, or how to put clothes on, or manage your inventory, or build basic objects in-world, or how voice works, how parcel media works, live music — all of these basic features are things that are amazing experiences when you can have them, but they’re not easy enough yet. They’re not — they just in many cases don’t completely work, and we — it’s so easy to get ahead of ourselves as a company and forget that. So going back to those basics and just trying to make this thing work for all of us is what you can expect to see from us next.
5. Second Life is Not For Sale
Dousa Dragonash: Is there any truth in the rumour that Second Life is preparing to be bought?
Philip Linden: Dousa…. nope.
I was relieved and delighted to hear Philip’s plan for Second Life. His positions were very similar to what I speculated in the first episode of Metareality. I think the Lab is focused in the right direction, and it is good to see Philip is still involved. I look forward to seeing “the walls break down.”
You can download or read Philip’s speech in it’s entirety here.
*Special thanks to Torley Linden for this recording/transcript.*