While Codebastard Redgrave has already created a memorial dedicated to the tens of Lindens fired a few days ago in a corner of her island Rouge, the story of the reduction of one third of the staff of Linden Lab (the Californian company that has launched and operates Second Life) and the closure of overseas offices in Great Britain and Singapore took more defined contours. According to an Alphaville Herald’s (formerly Second Life Herald, one of the oldest newspapers in the metaverse) article, the decision, following two years culminating in the acquisition of the marketplace Buy on Rez and Xstreet and social network Avatars United, would was also taken to “make Second Life more appealing to someone with a panel truck and enough cash to buy our servers and pull all the plugs on the once-vital virtual world” created by the firm now managed by Mark Kingdom (aka M Linden).
Beyond irony Herald, citing a “first offer of 100 dollars” to buy all in block, we have to note how, vanished the possibility to land at Wall Street and after the exit of a couple of investors, Linden Lab has no longer been able to collect fresh capitals from March 2006 after collecting just over $ 28 million in the first years of life.
According to Sharepost’s data the company, which had come to a “virtual” valuation of over a billion dollars at the height of its glory in 2007, could now at best be worth slightly less than half, but we think it will be difficult in the current financial markets conditions (and seen the persistent concerns about the world economy) to find anyone willing to pay much more than just what the latest ventures in 2006 paid for securities, at the implicit valuation of $ 140.9 million. Time has passed until then, but virtual worlds have not broken through as social “massive” platform to overcome momentum from the simplest model of social networks like MySpace or Facebook or microblogging sites like Twitter, where you can’t do even a fraction of what you can create in SL but you don’t need software and hardware powerful as that necessary even to log into an immersive 3D virtual world like Second Life (not to mention other competitors such as Blue Mars or Entropia, maybe more intriguing but more “heavy” in terms of required recources).
The uncertain news about the fate of Tom Hale (aka T Linden), whose avatar (a green frog) was seen stopping a few minutes near his own grave at the memorial of Codie (where many residents are bringing flowers and tributes to some of Lindens best known like Blue, Teagan, Cody, Pathfinder, Zero, Scarlett, Leo, Matthew and many others), let us suspect that Mark Kingdom has also wanted to make a drastic turnaround after the flop of Viewer2 project, a project born under a bad star, which has lagged (should have been launched last year) and that has hardly brought any benefits expected (the small increase of active users in the first quarter of the year was explained by the same management of Linden Lab as a consequence of James Cameron‘s Avatar movie). Since Tom was in charge of the project Viewer2 is not so unlikely to be fired (or has decided to step aside) in order to give an extra chance to those who groped after him will have to do in SL that half-step backwards in its modesty Mondivirtuali.it/SLnn.it had suggested for months was necessary to regain popularity with the “brute mass” of users that of the wonders of web2.0 virtual worlds in 3D literally do not know what to do.
And not knowing what to do there are a thousand other things to do within 24 hours, relegating what was perhaps the greatest technological utopia of the first decade of the twenty-first century to a niche role, by its nature incapable of supporting the development indefinitely. We only hope that this will serve to reinvigorate the sector and beyond the current problems of Linden Lab virtual worlds like technology and philosophy can gain momentum thanks to the skills that, unintentionally, the layoffs by Linden Lab of many engineers and developers around the world could even help strengthen some other competitors.