Second Life News: Mark Linden’s Keynote, What Did We Learn About Kingdon’s Kingdom?

July 2nd, 2008  |  Published in Second Life News

By Sigmund Leominster, News Editor
On Monday 23rd June, 2008, Mark Kingdon, the new CEO of Linden Lab®, gave his first public speech to the citizens of Second Life™. Some of his comments might provide us with a glimpse of what is happening and what is to come at LL.
“We are at a really interesting time in our development here at Linden Lab and Second Life because when a company and a technology go through the growth that we have gone through, it creates both growth opportunities and challenges as we are at a really, really interesting inflection point in Second Life’s history now.”
Kingdon reinforces what SLentrepreneur has pointed out before; namely that the company is now in a period of significant growth. Although he describes the process as “gone through,” LL is clearly still “going through” the expansion.
“We are very, very focused on usability and stability so we can continue to bring new Residents into the fold and allow our platform to grow and the economy to thrive.”
This was one of the first things Kingdon noted about the Second Life experience and it sounds like a priority action item for LL. If he really is taking note of customer feedback, it is very likely that stability is the number one item on the software agenda. Although he says he wants to see economic growth, this surely cannot come if platform access is frequently disrupted due to unpredictable software. And it is certainly a positive that he sees the Second Life economy as a key feature of development.
“One of the fundamental elements of that is around IP rights. It is really, really important that people who create great content are able to enjoy it and protect it and that was one of the things that Philip put in place and has underpinned the economy as we know it today.”
Just over a week ago, Linden Labs acted on complaints regarding copyright infringements to Stroker Serpentine’s Sex Bed (real life=Kevin Alderman) by removing all allegedly pirated materials from their servers. According to a Reuters report, Linden Lab described the removal by Linden Lab as “accidental,” but the reality stands that residents using products containing illegal copies of Serpentine’s products discovered missing inventory items. The acknowledgement that IP is important is good for Second Life businesses. Wholesale ripping off of products has become a real issue for entrepreneurs, many of whom spend lots of time and money on creating unique items. Hopefully, Linden Lab will become more proactive in the protection of copyright and IP.
“It is very, very exciting to see this thing called Second Life take on a global perspective to become a global economy in its own right.”
The 24-hour SL economy is a reality. Linden Lab is positioning itself to be a global player and as such, will need to ensure that the needs of international customers are met. UK customers are frequently irritated by the imposition of VAT (value-added tax) to their fees and purchases, but these are imposed by the UK government, not Linden Lab. Such local considerations need to be monitored and addressed by LL as growth continues.
“I find it absolutely compelling to do in-world meetings to connect with people in different places and use Second Life as a place to do business. It is also phenomenal from an education perspective. And in today’s world, where we are so resource-constrained in the real world with energy and physical space, the thought of educating and being educated in Second Life is really, really exciting.”
In order to be successful, Second Life needs to be more than just an online “game.” Although the vast majority of residents use the platform as a Social Network, others are using it for corporate and educational missions. SLentrepreneur has already reported on event such as the Working Worlds Job Fair, the SLanguages 2008 academic conference on language teaching in Second Life, IBM’s Corporate Worlds project, and even the opening of a non-profit island aimed at providing an in-world platform for non-profit companies and NGOs.
Despite the current slowed growth in number of new residents, there do seem to be a lot of initiatives continuing to take place in Second Life. Kingdon appears to be aware of the need to promote SL’s use by businesses, educational facilities, and charities.
“There are many, many dimensions to the experience that make this so evocative and so compelling and these are the reasons that we are all very excited about the future of Second Life and the possibilities ahead as we celebrate our 10th year anniversary, 20th, 25th…”
Let’s hope that Kingdon’s Kingdom can indeed look forward to a 10th anniversary and beyond. This means focusing on a short-term strategy addressing the problem of software reliability, a medium-term strategy of promoting business growth and encouraging new residents, and a long-term strategy of global coverage and involvement of many different organizations.

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