Judging ex-post, evidence of the weakness of Mark Kingdom (aka M Linden) was probably the decision to lay off 110 employees of Linden Lab a few weeks ago, actually eliminating the last year of work and recovering once again in question as what may be the fate of the Californian company that created and developed the virtual world of Second Life. But after the cancellation of his speech at SL7B (where instead spoke earlier this week the revived founder, Philip Rosedale, aka Philip Linden), was clear to all that the kingdom of M Linden was finished and that the company was looking for a new number one. Who will be is hard to say now, as Philip Linden is back to replace M Linden with the role of interim Ceo, that is until you find someone brave or foolish enough to take the role of number one.
Meanwhile, the official statement of “daddy” Phil (http://blogs.secondlife.com/community/features/blog/2010/06/24/returning-to-the-lab) talks of the promotion of Bob Komin, entered into Linden Lab last January as Cfo (Chief financial officer, a position which is usually entrusted to a man trusted by the financial shareholders) nine months after the leaving of John Zdanowski (aka Zee Linden) and author of cost cutting strategy that has allowed Linden Lab to survive the economic crisis (either real or virtual, of course, given the substantial failure of Viewer2 as engine of net growth in new users). Komin was appointed as Coo (Chief operating officer), that is he will manage day to day Linden Lab, while Phil, who showed previously to be a “visionary” rather than a manager, should bring the focus of the company to technological development and product. Sign that in San Francisco they know that by now the technological gap over rivals (and not only the various Blue Mars or Entropia, but especially the future generations of consoles from Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft and their “playful” approaches to virtual worlds) was virtually reset.
The tam tam of the news has been bounced on the web and even before the official announcement Hamlet Au and Tateru Nino already wondered what effect the decision (later confirmed) to layoff Kingdom can lead. For our part we think that Linden Lab continues to groping and that no change in the engineering approach, moreover, reiterated Monday by Phil when he was basically asked users yet another act of faith and patience waiting while the engineers in California will find some new wonder to start the carousel again. But without a story-telling able again to move hundreds of thousands of new users, possibly without discouraging old ones as it happened recently, auspices of Phil won’t be enough to set in motion the machinery. With all the regret that you can have it now, years later than the media boom, when you can perhaps begin to understand how to use the platforms of virtual worlds for both the game aspects, as well as those for educationa, communication purposes and business.