The First thing: Ok the elephant in the room is the 30% layoffs over at Linden Labs (LL). I decided I would wait about a week to say anything about it. Obviously it’s very sad for everyone involved, it really is. Of course the usual “the sky is falling” bunch is using this event as proof that the lab is closing up any time now. Ok but Rob, why else would a company layoff so many people off without doing it because they are so desperate for cash this is the last gasp? Nope sorry that’s not the case at all. OK two points here, #1 LL is reasonably valuated at 650-700M $US privately owned company. You think a company that big is off the Federal United States radar? Let alone the Hyper Liberal US state of California that they are based in? Sorry they don’t get to lay that many people off and make announcements about why without justifying it to severe scrutiny. That is a fact. Prove me wrong that there are no consequences to laying off that many people.
Ok so what is going on? Why drop that many talented people? Because, as LL has stated they are restructuring. But Rob isn’t that just BS that they need to cut jobs to cut costs because they are about to fail? Nope sorry, let me make this personal, forget about what I said above. Lets say you or people you know have a baby. The need is a good, reliable babysitter that can be trusted to take charge of the job. Fantastic, someone is found that fits the bill, wonderful! Ok time moves on and needs move on, now the need is for a home health giver and not a baby sitter. So what happens? Do you retrain the babysitter as a Home health giver? Do they even want to do that? No, you thank your babysitter for a job well done, maybe give them a send off bonus and wish them the best, and move on to find a great Home health giver. That is what is going on over at LL, they have new needs and are changing members of the staff to meet the new needs.
Also I think some people are taking the layoffs a little too personally. I saw the Linden Memorial over at http://slurl.com/secondlife/Rouge/165/72/22 and that’s fine. What I haven’t seen is a conversion list of Linden avatar to alternate avatar, or even where to follow these people on Plurk, Twiter or Facebook. (Obviously hard to do with the many “Unknown Lindens” that got gavestones) Maybe SL was just a job to most of them? Maybe we were not all as close as some people seem to think. The only Linden I can say I ever talked to outside of a professional arena was Pathfinder Linden. (He was laid off a while back so I guess he didn’t qualify for a headstone) ***UPDATE! Looks like he got a headstone after all. http://bit.ly/a6nyhg *** He seems a nice guy, I follow him on twitter and he seems to be doing fine post LL. He didn’t die when LL laid him off, he moved on. So maybe don’t worry so much, these people and the lab will be just fine.
The second thing: Much like after the lindens jacked the prices around with the homestead/open sim mess, rumors are flying that people are leaving SL like a sinking ship off to other virtual worlds. Pretty obvious rumor to run with, but this time it is different. There was this one new world where all the “talented creators” in SL were running to and that was going to leave SL with a talent vacuum or something and that was going to be the end of SL. I consider my partner and myself fairly talented creators and so how did we not hear about this magical new virtual world that was better than SL in every way. Even odder, why were most of the posts I could find not including the name of this brave new world. Well I finally did my “Davinci Code” work and figured out where everyone is supposedly going.
http://inworldz.com/ is a virtual world run off the same software that runs Second Life. (You can get a copy here http://opensimulator.org and get an island running on your local machine pretty easily) So I made an account, and took a look. As I write this, here are the stats they report.
Grid Status: Online
Total Users: 4606
Users Online: 55
Total Regions: 213
I’m not going to show the SL numbers here because I don’t need to. Also I’m not going to get into just how unstable and how many issues I found in my brief visit. This is a perfectly great start for a new virtual world. However, why would so many people be leaving SL to this new and frankly unstable new world? Ok first few people are actually talking about leaving SL and even fewer are actually leaving. So what is all the fuss about? This vocal minority are generally older Avatars or “Oldbees”. (Yes even at almost 4 years in world I am considered a Noob by some) I think the big issue they have with the SL of 2010 is that is just isn’t the Wild Wild West they remember from when they first came to SL. So a new grid like Inworldz is very attractive to them. For me, let them have it. If inworldz, bluemars or any of the other growing virtual worlds gets independent cash out, a significant number of invested players and a bit of stability my associates and I will expand into it, but not leave SL.
This is not the first upheaval we have been through in SL and it will likely not be the last. Trust me most SL residents never even heard about the layoffs let alone all the rest of this drama. If you believe in virtual worlds like I do, and you are here for the long term, you must know that right now Second Life is hands down the best virtual world available to us. I look forward to the future filled with rich genuine options to grow into, even then, for as long as she is around I’m sticking with SL.