Yesterday, Philip Linden (AKA: Philip Rosedale ) stepped down as CEO of Linden Labs (yes again). He has done this before and then come back. He is staying on the board but not running day-to-day operations.
Here is what he wrote on the Second Life blog. You can find the original here.
After about four months as interim CEO, working closely with Bob Komin, the management team, and the board, we’ve decided we are ready to start the search for a new CEO. I’ll be leaving day-to-day management of the company and continuing in my role on the board, including helping in the search to find a great CEO. I will also be continuing my work with my new company, LoveMachine. Bob will lead Linden Lab while we conduct the search. It’s been an intense few months of transition, and we all feel like we are in a better place now, with a clearer sense of direction and more focus, and are ready to bring someone new into the mix as a leader.
I don’t think the timing on this is too good from a corporate perspective as articles such as Academics Discuss Mass Migration From Second Life are starting appear due to the elimination of the educational discount once provided to academic and non-profit institutions using Second Life.
With the above cited article containing quotes like:
Scott Diener, associate director for information-technology services at the University of Auckland, said his institution was “very likely to move out of Second Life.” He said many longtime Second Life users are angry at the recent decisions by the company that runs the service, Linden Lab.
So, it doesn’t look real good for the future of Second Life. Can’t say I am surprised, while Second Life is an innovative pioneer in the 3D virtual immersive learning space, I never thought they’d be around for the long haul…in their original form.
However, do I think Second Life is going away? NO. Absolutely not. Why? The brand name is too valuable. Someone will purchase Second Life and make a run at it. The brand “Second Life” might not have the same past glory as it once did but its not going to vanish. Corporate ups and downs are the story of technology.
Atari heralded in the golden age of video games but is now a shadow of its former self in terms of influence. Beta max, a video tape format, lost to the lower quality VHS. Napster, one of the first file sharing applications, went away and has returned but its not the same. Technology pioneers don’t seem to weather the buzz, hype, anti-hype and comeback trail very well. Its just the way it is. One of the few exceptions is Apple, they were awesome in the 1980’s, lost their way and then have come roaring back. Not typical.
Regardless of what happens to Second Life, 3Dvirtual immersive environments are here to stay!! They are not going anywhere. Too many people have seen the power of these environments and too many companies have gained real advantages in learning and collaboration using 3D virtual worlds.
The Gartner Hype Cycle places virtual worlds at the bottom of the “trough of disillusionment” which is say that shortly, they will emerge as a serious tools and gain widespread adoption within 5 to 10 years and from what I’ve seen from the US State Department to Pharmaceutical Companies to State Governments I think widespread adoption will occur much sooner.
And now with virtual worlds like Onland (with an online business district) starting and focusing on business, I think more and more interest will be thrown toward virtual worlds. As the company states:
“OnLand is a uniquely innovative approach to business collaboration and online presentation,” said Philip McClenaghan, deputy director of DLAB. “As firms cut back on travel, OnLand provides an equally effective and less expensive way for clients to connect with customers, suppliers and distributors and showcase their products 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year.”
Ok, so a 3D market place for businesses is a good concept and virtual business people interacting in a virtual worlds is an exciting, natural next step. The concept really isn’t unique or particularly innovative given the hundreds of other virtual worlds, but still…the emphasis and enthusiasm shows a focus on virtual worlds and that as a technology 3D virtual immersive environments are not going anywhere.
In terms of the educator’s “mindshare” a possible competitor to Second Life for the attention of academics is Open Cobalt which is the ” the first step in a long term project to make available to all people a free and open source platform for constructing, accessing, and sharing virtual workspaces for research and education. This 3D multimedia wiki technology makes it easy to create deeply collaborative and hyperlinked multi-user virtual workspaces, virtual exhibit spaces, and game-based learning and training environments that run on all major software operating systems.”
Perhaps that’s where upset academics will “flee” but make no mistake, Second Life is not disappearing, just morphing. And 3D virtual immsersive environments are not losing momentum…they are gaining.