Even if you have not seen the exhibition celebrating 25 years of Pixar, in Italy you may have seen during the holidays a documentary broadcast by Rai1 (of which talk even Luca Boschi on Nova100), Pixar Story, dedicated to the history of one of the most talented and successful in recent decades, not only in America. Since it is about 3D animation (albeit a static 3D animated frame by frame by Pixar in the quiet of their studios within months of patient work to the computer) I got a spontaneous urge to make a comparison with Linden Lab (which, however, as pointed out a few days ago my friend Anita Carloni aka Biancaluce Robbiani aka Catlady, uses a truly dynamic 3D interactive in a real-time platform open to the world).
In short, let stand for a moment the differences in technology, have you ever wondered why a company to succeed in a field (specifically 3D animation, or entertainment “art” in the broadest sense of the word) and an other not succeed, despite both employ significant resources and men of genius?
In a post published on the blog di Gene Yoo, aka Ginsu Linden, Corporate Development vice president of Linden Lab between 2005 and 2009 and author of the “Linden’s tao”, gave me a trace: for Gene the failure experienced by Linden Lab in its attempt to make Second Life a mass phenomenon have focused on having “failed as people. We failed as a team. Our failure was intensely personal, particular to each person involved, and ruinous to the overall team”. An allegation that Gene, now switched to Google, moving first to himself (“I let people fail, I let people go, I let people hide in their illusion”) and then further explained on New World Notes (which is the blog of another ex-Linden Lab, Wagner Au).
The problem, however, could be thinner: according to John Lasseter, current creative director of Pixar and Walt Disney as well as “deux ex machina” more properly artistic aspect of Pixar, the success of the production was due to the fact that he met the real “computer geniuses” (indeed, some of the brightest scientists), also among the biggest fans of his work as an animator under Disney, with artists of great talent (not to mention the financial and visionary genius of Steve Jobs whom funded Pixar by buying in 1979 the Graphics Group led by Lasseter, previously part of the Computer Division of the Lucasfilm of George Lucas, who was not interested enough to further develop these activities).
But even more is due to the fact of being able to coordinate their efforts by allowing each team member to grow and give his best for the company and its productions, so that after Lasseter two other animators as Brad Bird and Pete Docter became successful directors, the first having among other things made The Incredibles and Ratatouille in addition to the less fortunate, but according to many critics fantastic in terms of graphic arts The Iron Giant, the second directing Monster Inc. and Up as well as having contributed to the writing of much of the material of Toy Story, Toy Story 2 and A Bug’s Life. In Linden Lab after the “visionary” founders Philip Rosedale and Cory Ondrejka are probably missed the successors to the task, but as the words suggest Ginsu perhaps even more serious was the failure to focus all efforts towards the further development of Linden Lab (and additional platforms after Second Life, as it seems Rod Humble want now to try to realize) and perhaps the inability to find technological solutions that truly became the industry standard (as has happened at Pixar with the development of proprietary software RenderMan used to achieve scenes otherwise impossible to shoot in most Hollywood blockbusters of the past 20 years from Titanic to the “prequels” of Star Wars until the trilogy of the Lord of the Rings).
In short, the talent is not enough to succeed, you must also address the talent in the right direction, know how to coordinate multiple talented people to achieve success after another, thus renewing the media attention year after year, have to find financing partners who only provide capital but also high-level relationships and a strategic vision for the development of society and, last but not least, find the courage after every success to throw it all away and start over each time trying to overcome the limit. Something ultimately Linden Lab has not yet proven to be able to do,this remains far from models such as Apple and Pixar who also started out with “niche” products but were then able to achieve a worldwide hit after correctly identifying their markets and managing their talents. Not by any chance any of you know how to convince John Lasseter to drive some experiments for the general public in Second Life?