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Thursday, June 24, 2010

Second Life CEO Resigns, Founder Back in Charge

Event

This just in:

Linden Labs, the creator of the 3D virtual world Second Life has announced that company founder Philip Rosedale has been named interim CEO and that Mark Kingdon is stepping down as CEO.

Philip Rosedale, in a posting called Returning to the Lab stated:
Our thinking as a team is that my returning to the CEO job now can bring a product and technology focus that will help rapidly improve Second Life. We need to simplify and focus our product priorities -- concentrating all our capabilities on making Second Life easier to use and better for the core experiences that it is delivering today. I think that I can be a great help and a strong leader in that process.

This comes just a short time after Linden Labs announced a layoff of 30 percent of its staff.

Analysis
It is not really surprising to have a CEO shift after the layoffs and apparent shake up of staff. The company is strong on the consumer side but it would be difficult for almost any organization to live up to all the hype that Second Life has had in the past. It is a good platform but with some scalability, usability and channel issues.

Also, in speaking with industry insiders, I've learned the corporate culture at Linden Labs is a very relaxed which doesn't always translate well into the growth stage of a company when decisions have to be made based on "finance and strategic planning" rather than "cool and neat projects".

This is part of the natural churn within any tech industry and because Linden Labs and Second Life is the biggest player in the space, events like this get a lot of press. I think the company is going to hunker down a bit and start to really focus on the consumer-side and technical capabilities prior to making a serious run at either the academic or corporate markets but, we'll have to see as the days progress what happens when a software development firm cuts staff and resources while trying to revamp technical aspects of its product.

Not sure this change is going to be like Steve Jobs coming back to Apple but it should re-charge efforts on the consumer side.

*Thanks to Mike Qaissaunee for the "heads up".

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2 comments:

Randy said...

Karl - you've got it right. However, one thing that makes this company different is the user community. Linden Labs can do whatever is necessary to keep the platform up and running, but it must truly understood that this is a content generation environment - and the people are going to make it or break it.

Karl Kapp said...

Randy,

Good point about the user community. Linden Labs has such a loyal and dedicated community who are really experts at creating content and experiences within Second Life. Tapping into that channel and partnering with those organizations is a good road ahead for Linden Labs and Second Life.