Archive for the ‘Philip Rosedale’ Tag

A Knave and an Imposter!


It is claimed that this avatar, who delivered a keynote speech at the opening of the Virtual Worlds Best Practices in Education Conference, is Philip Linden, Returned to us from Beyond for a season and a time.

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Posted April 10, 2014 by Harper Ganesvoort in Humor

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Philip Rosedale Returns to Linden Lab CEO Position

Philip Rosedale. (Photo by James Duncan Davidson/O'Reilly Media, Inc., CC Generic 2.0 license)

We’ve had about a day to mull over the news that Mark Kingdon has been given the axe as CEO of Linden Lab, and that Philip Rosedale has resumed the direct control of his brainchild, at least for the interim.  (New World Notes article; Rosedale statement)  As of publishing time, a New World Notes open poll suggests strongly that Residents are in favor of this move — even if we will have to put up with Philip’s spiky hair, Rocky Horror T-shirt and codpiece again:

Poll results as of 6:15 SLT, June 25, 2010. Poll courtesy of New World Notes

I’m one of the more optimistic, for the record.  I’m uncertain how much acceptance Mark has had from the Resident community over his tenure; and many of the Lab’s moves during that time have been controversial, to say the least.  Of course, for all we know, things could have smoothed out at the Lab with his continued presence.  Only the future knows this, and the future has just been rewritten.

The thing that Rosedale has going for him, besides a (presumably) intimate nuts-and-bolts knowledge of how Second Life works, is that his is the vision that created this real incarnation of a concept only in books for the most part, until his company was formed.  Anyone who was brought in from outside to take over would not be part of the Linden Lab culture — an admittedly kooky one at times, but they would not have the same “heart” for it that Philip has.  Many of us felt that way when Kingdon was named CEO in May 2008.  Philip was the creator; Mark was a businessman first and foremost, and I wonder if he tended to see Second Life mainly in that model, as a place for facilitating business.  There were speculations, of course, that Kingdon was brought in to help pave the way for an initial public offering of stock in Linden Lab; a more business-0riented CEO would be considered essential for such a move, and Mark’s tenure as CEO of Organic, a digital-advertising agency.

But a virtual-world business is a hairier operation to run.  You not only have the business aspect to manage; you must also deal with the client base that is the raison d’être for the business’s existence.  Second Life had business presences before, though more of an attempt to advertise their Real Life products in world.  Many of these left during the Great Hype Meltdown of 2008-09, and Kingdon attempted to bring in more business for meeting-type situations with his Second Life Enterprise initiative over the past six months.  Many feel that focus was given to this move, at the expense of Grid stability and Resident satisfaction, as well as other decisions that, according to Gwyneth Llewelyn, intended to pave the way for increased business activity.  (Read her thorough analysis of the situation from June 10.)  The failure of many of these business moves are what led to Kingdon’s dismissal.

The thing is that Mark was right in his broad vision, if not necessarily in his execution.  Second Life — and Linden Lab — cannot survive forever on Residential accounts alone, and definitely not on free accounts.  While some may disagree with the Linden Homes move (Gwyneth believes that this put the Guvnah in direct competition with existing landowners), Linden Lab should encourage conversion of free to Premium accounts.  Additionally, business needs wooing, focusing on the core advantages that Second Life has already offered to huge corporations such as IBM — the hosting and abetment of meetings without the expense and waste of travel for substantial numbers of people.  As much as many of us may not like it, Big Business must be courted in, and must become part of the Grid.

The key will be to find a new CEO that can balance both sides, and deliver continued and improved performance of the virtual platforms.  Rosedale possesses the vision, but he doesn’t seem to possess the business chops, which is why he handed off to Kingdon two years ago.  Philip’s return (dare we call it a resurrection? [grin]) will help restore the balance.  Now we need someone to push the dream forward — on all fronts.  Second Life cannot survive, let alone thrive, without both the yin and yang of the equation.

Events on the Grid

Shuffling through blogs this morning, I came across a pair of art items, one quite a nice opportunity, and the other almost sure to generate controversy in light of previous happenings.


First, the easy. Prim Perfect magazine and blog have joined with the Orange Island community to sponsor a fashion photography contest, which will run across five days during the week of August 25. Competitors must shoot to a different theme each day, at a location specified by the judges, for daily prizes. There will also be a Grand Prix for the Most Consistent team, available only to those who participate across all five days.

For more details, you can read at the Orange Fashion Photo Contest blog, or on page 48 of Prim Perfect’s issue 11. Get yourself warmed up, get a good model (or spruce up your own avatar), and go for it!

Thanks to Maggie Mahoney of Runway magazine.


And now, the rough.

The word has gone out on the Big Blog.  Volunteers are being solicited for this year’s Burning Life Festival, the in-world equivalent of the famous Burning Man art festival in the Real World.  It’s said that Philip Rosedale got his idea for Linden World, the predecessor of Second Life, from attending Burning Man in 1999.  (That may be, but there must be a dollop of Neal Stephenson in here somewhere, too….)

So what’s the problem?  They’ve done this for several years now, with no complaints from anybody.  Well, Ari Blackthorne examines the festival in light of Linden Lab’s apparent current policy of sanitizing — some would say “Disneyfying,” as Manhattan did to a good deal of Times Square — the Grid.  Remember that Burning Life emulates Burning Man in many ways; and one of them has been a general casualness about clothing.  Ari is suspicious about what will happen to Burning Life if the Lab decides to go after the exposure factor, as it did with ageplay and other matters during the planning for the recent SL5B celebration.  Ari notes:

No one twisted anybody’s arm to go running around to the pr0n clubs, or to put their money into these banks, or any of all that other crap, yet it was the shrill vocal minority that whined about it all. And remember, the alleged trading of RL photographs of child porn in the sensational news story that seemed to be the catalyst for all the bad press about Second Life is alleged. The last word from Linden Lab is that they have not been able to find these assets in the system, thus the media company fanning those flames may also have been blowing smoke up Linden Lab’s ass – just to ‘validate’ the sensationalism of their so-called news story.

If this is the case, then the funky lab on Linden Street, where you could get away with about anything in its virtual world, is definitely adopting a policy of reaction to bad press similar to many normal businesses.  To borrow from an old television program, the new management is getting measured for a team jacket, size 54 extra-uptight.  Virtual nudity isn’t particularly my thing — I ran off last night from someone who was pretending to be a body model at Alady Island and asked me if I’d like to have some fun — but that kind of trolling insanity does not happen routinely in Second Life, despite what the press has to say.

Burning Life doesn’t fall under the canopy of “what you do in the privacy of your home is your affair,” but my understanding is that it’s usually been clean, safe and fun.  It isn’t a mass meet-for-meat market, but a place to display your creativity, just like the celebration of artists in RL; and what is SL but a whole mess of artists at one point or another, shaping a new world for research and enjoyment?  I think the festival should come under the rubric of “If it doesn’t hurt your neighbor or yourself, go ahead and do it,” advocated by such as the ever-lovin’ Spider Robinson in Callahan’s Lady.

The question is, will the new Linden Lab mentality allow that this year and in future?

Second Life’s Oldest Virtual Object?

For all the blogs I link to, I don’t read them as often as I should. So I was catching up on Wagner Au’s New World Notes, and I ran across this article from June 24, especially significant in light of SL5B:

One day Green Beebe noticed a brightly colored beach ball floating above Smoky, and flew up to see. “Now it might not seem very interesting, a beach ball,” Green acknowledges. “Except this beach ball was made by Philip Linden in April 2002 before SL was even launched.”…

Now that’s not bad, something surviving that long (at least in some form; Ham speculates that it may simply be a copy of a long-gone item). The odds are that there are other things out there, lost somewhere in the vastness of What Philip (and many others) Hath Wrought. But how would you be able to tell unless you started right-clicking on everything you see and checking properties?

Someone needs to build a museum to house this forlorn little beach ball. It should be placed on the Metanational Register of Historic Landmarks. It should be preserved somehow!

(By the way, Ham, who was the owner listed on the thing?)

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Congressional Testimony Goes Off Smoothly — Updated

April 1, 2008; 8:09 a.m. SLT

The Internet Subcommittee just finished their hearing, as reported yesterday in New World Notes and this blog. Testimony was pretty much peaceful and with little or no confrontation; the main concerns have been in-world fraud, the terrorism question, and if teens can be kept in teen-oriented areas and adults in adult areas. For those worried about tax legislation, almost no mention was made of the money exchanged in Second Life; some note was made of revenues, but not a word about taxes was said.

Philip Rosedale was the lead witness, and he impressed me — at least in his opening statement — as very much the starry-eyed visionary many have portrayed him as. As the questions got a little tougher, he acquitted himself well generally — when he was given a chance to state a full answer. The rapid fire of begin to talk and follow-up question can make anyone look somewhat bad, and Rosedale was not the only one out of the group to suffer from this syndrome. Possibly the tensest part was, as I worried, when they got to the separation of teens from the main Grid and adults from the teen Grid. Rosedale did his best to work around the question, but he had to admit that there was no real way to exclude one group from the wrong simulators with present technology and legal limitations.

Watch the Subcommittee site for an archive of the hearing in Windows Media.

UPDATE, 9:47 p.m.:

Reuters carries a full summary of the hearing.

UPDATE, April 2, 7:32 a.m.:

Ben Duranske does a very good analysis of the hearing, more factual than my quick off-the-cuff take above.

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Philip Rosedale To Testify Before Congress On Virtual Worlds

The time was bound to come eventually, I suppose. With the growth and acceptance of virtual worlds, and the many predictions that some kind of virtual reality like Second Life will be Net 3.0, Congress was bound to take an interest in it. Reported in New World Notes:

Mr. Linden Goes To Washington: Philip Rosedale To Appear At First US Congress Hearing On Virtual Worlds

What I am curious about is what kind of questions they will ask Philip, and what will result from this hearing. While I see the need for some kind of legal standard in world, the very international — or even trans-national — nature of a globally accessible virtual world, along with the peculiar way that things work in world, makes writing good laws a delicate, tricky operation. While it’s all too easy to write law, good law is another creature altogether.

(I’m not sure if I can express this in a way that is clear and unambiguous; so I’ll just plow ahead, and hope that I can clarify in comments as necessary.)

I fear any plan to actually enact a binding tax on SL income — one thing that is likely to come whether we will or no, Neal Stephenson’s dreams of the First Distributed Republic notwithstanding. But what I fear most is an attempt to restrict the in-world environment and culture to some narrow, politically driven standard of morality. Mistake me not; I wouldn’t mind seeing what porn palaces and dangling dildos exist in world to make a noise like a hoop and roll away, to borrow from Dorothy L. Sayers. At the same time, in the privacy of one’s virtual home, between adults, what goes on is their business.

If any kind of community standard is to be set, it is best to restrict it to no more than the set of internationally agreed-upon standards of social behavior with the broadest amount of personal latitude. When lawmakers get hold of something like this, though, it becomes a political football; witness the ongoing battles in America over polarizing concepts of “morality” in RL, such as abortion or the ever-popular “family values.” And any laws made in America concerning an internationally accessible virtual world will have some sort of international effect as well, the example being our restrictions on Net gambling that resulted in the Grid gambling ban. At the risk of invoking a much abused argument, I would contend that much of the law already in existence is sufficient to the cause as it is, and does not need to be amplified except to adapt it to the peculiar situation of in world.

I don’t say that we need to be paranoid and start worrying about what will come from these hearings. What I do say is that we need to pay attention, as any good citizen should, to the legislative process, and make our voices heard should the need arise.

Rosedale’s testimony will be streamed, beginning at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time (6:30 SLT). Open the stream from the Committee’s schedule page. (Windows Media required; an archive will be posted of the hearing as well.)

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Philip Rosedale to Step Down as CEO of Linden Lab — Update 3

After weeks of not significant developments (to my strange mind), a piece of real news. Reuters reports that founder and CEO of Linden Research Philip Rosedale has announced he plans to step down from the top managerial position. This has been confirmed by Mitch Kapor, the current chairman of the board. Rosedale will succeed Kapor as chairman, and will continue with Linden Lab in “product development and strategy.”

The article states that this is not unusual for startup companies, once they get past the early stages. The visionary CEO makes way for a more business-oriented manager, while keeping a hand in the activities of the company. Adam cites Google and eBay as examples. The article also mentions that the search for a new CEO may take some time, as they will be looking for someone who can:

  1. help regain the growth that made Second Life such a phenomenon for a time
  2. live within the (ahem) curious corporate culture that Linden Lab thrives on
  3. win over the Residents, who have their own…idiosyncratic view of how LL should conduct their business and govern the Grid.

The last, to my way of thinking, may be the most significant in the long run. As I mentioned in a comment to Ham Au’s early post on the question, many of the more libertarian Residents have freaked over such decisions as the famous banking and gambling bans. And this was under an “administration” that would be far looser than a more business-model-oriented CEO might be — unless that new CEO is enlightened indeed in his/her handling of the client population. Or at least is able to win the folk over to the “revised corporate strategy.”

All the fears will, of course, be speculation and nothing else until the new CEO is selected — a process that Kapor says can take anyplace from a few weeks to many months. I’m betting (and hoping) that Linden Lab will look for someone who can work in the quirky environment that has often fostered and nurtured Second Life, and who will be able to thrive in the sometimes charged Residential atmosphere over which direction the Grid is heading in.

Philip Rosedale’s own statement is on the Big Blog.

Supplemental, 2:18 pm local:

The reaction is setting in among the bloggers:

UPDATE, March 15, 1:20 pm:

Further blog links, now that the news has percolated through:

UPDATE:  March 19

This final update links to the March 18 issue of the Metaverse Messenger, where the story is the first above the “fold.”  Requires current version of Adobe Reader!

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Cory (Linden) Ondrejka Departs Linden Lab — Updated

I was not really planning on doing so much news coverage as is showing up here, but events are conspiring against me.

Any road, reports are confirmed that Cory Ondrejka, the Chief Tech Officer of Linden Lab, is departing — and apparently under disagreements with Philip Rosedale about the future technical direction Second Life is to take. I have no direct information myself, but the initial reports at Massively are confirmed by New World Notes and Reuters SL feed.

There appear to be some who think that Cory, a.k.a. the Flying Spaghetti Monster of the Grid, was the grounding force that helped Second Life develop to what it is today, and dismiss Rosedale as scattered and a negative influence on LL’s direction. The best I can say as a relative newcomer is: read all you can, analyze carefully, and draw your own conclusions.  I’ll update this as I discover more writing on the issue, and put up a new article when I draw any conclusions of my own.


UPDATE, December 13, 1:12 a.m. local:

I posted the original above early in the news/blog cycle. More reaction to Ondrejka’s departure is starting to trickle in, based on tag searches:

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