Jan 24, 2014

Let’s Groove

Rod Humble stepped down as CEO of #LindenLab


As reported by NWN recently, Rod Humble stepped down as CEO of Linden Lab and is going on to start a wildly successful Etsy store... or something.


But that’s not important right now, because all the kittens in Yarnia have waited for this glorious day, and according to fluffeh prophecy that day has finally come!



Kitten Approved

Very few things warrant getting out the tineh party hats. This more than qualifies =^-^=



To say I’m overwhelmed with joy is an understatement of the century, and the kittens in Yarnia have broke out their tineh party hats to celebrate the occasion.


Ok, so what now?


Rodimus Prime is on the way back to Cybertron (just a working title for his new Etsy store), but that leaves yet another void in the Linden Lab CEO position which probably isn’t going to be filled by Philip Rosedale since he’s busy strapping cell phones to people’s heads and calling it innovation. Well, maybe Rosedale will come back and force everyone to use highfidelity?


That could happen... dear god I hope not.


Problem here is that the investors/board of directors have this really bad habit of not picking people to lead the place that actually have any concept of what the flipping hell Second Life is about.


So far it’s been a game (in the beginning), and then suddenly the community started using it like Gary’s Mod and it became (a) Metaverse, but then the board was like “What the fuck is a Metaverse? Just hire some guy to expand the corporate stuff...” and so that happened and Viewer 2, which then led to Philip Rosedale coming in to quiet the kids down before there was a riot just long enough for the board to hire Rod Humble from EA (of all places) to enact a vision (things you don’t ever associate with Electronic Arts executives) of the future for Linden Lab... which (as it turns out) looks a hell of a lot like pretending to be Mini Me to Electronic Arts and starting your own game distribution service and making half assed knockoffs of other games instead of focusing on the important things like your flagship product.


When you got a hammer, everything looks like a nail.


Which is unavoidable... treating the pre-existing user generated content and services as bogarted business strategy by duct taping the word “premium” to it  or writing a ToS that tries to pull a fast one isn’t so much a business strategy in a virtual world like Second Life as it is a completely douchebag maneuver.


It’s also lazy management...


So let’s agree on something right out of the gate – They don’t know their asses from their elbows when it comes to virtual worlds like Second Life. I’ll even go so far as to include Philip Rosedale in that group since his original idea was a game until the community figured out it could be used for other things.


They all talk a big game and come out swinging with their pedigree and titles, but every single time they have struck out. That’s really all they seem to be good at is talking a big game but they severely lack on the follow through now don’t they?


Trying to redefine what Linden Lab as a company is just to avoid the elephant in the room that is Second Life (your flagship product) is just as stupid as well. The last three years (and more) were a string of misguided blunders and cock-ups leading right up to the current ToS situation.







But seriously... what now?


We get another person in there that is from another industry altogether and tries to cram square pegs into round holes some more like a retarded chimpanzee because both blocks are painted red?


The basic premise here is that there really isn’t a C-Level type executive that is seasoned in how to run a Metaverse company, and anyone they choose from those thoroughbreds are likely going to run things into the ground some more because there is no actual understanding for what they are dealing with.


At this point they are either going to throw in the towel and close Second Life or find somebody to come in and essentially babysit the place while it slowly folds because they’re focusing on video games and the games distribution service. The other option is they try to unload the whole damned thing on another company to buy it out (Cloud Party anybody?) and the new owners shut it down.


Or in some freak accident unforeseen by absolutely everyone this side of the galaxy, they have a meeting and somebody says –



What we actually need here is somebody who is experienced in the subject at hand, and since this is an exotic case where not many (if any) exist like Linden Lab, the odds of finding a CEO by picking from the existing industry is slim to none without further jeopardizing the company (and our investment money).


So the obvious solution is not to pick a CEO from the C-level existing pool but find somebody that actually knows what the hell they are talking about on the subject. It’s an unconventional company, an unconventional product, and so it stands to reason that conventional wisdom flies in the face of it.



We already know this from the parade of CEOs that have already come and gone since every one of them have attempted the conventional wisdom approach and it very well has flown in the face of it all doing damage instead of good.


Anyone who is actually qualified to run Linden Lab comes with academic credentials specifically tailored to the topic of the Metaverse instead of an important sounding corporate title elsewhere.


Seriously... there are maybe a handful of people on Earth right now that actually “get” what a virtual world like Second Life is about. Not even the big players from the 1990s who started the trends know what the hell it’s about... Look at Thom from Worlds Inc or Rick Knoll from ActiveWorlds if you need proof of that.


Matter of fact, I am more qualified to be CEO of Linden Lab than Rodvik ever was. So, to the investors/board of directors at Linden Lab – here’s the only resume you’ll ever need. Whoever you hire to fill that spot better at least match that body of collective knowledge and understanding (or better) if you want to avoid going down with the Titanic. Because if your new CEO doesn’t at least know and understand what is in that research paper, you are absolutely fucking screwed.


Yes, I’m an intellectual bad-ass and I’m also a cocky son-of-a-bitch at times, but you know what? So was Steve Jobs and he pulled Apple out of the black hole they got themselves into.


And right now, that’s exactly the sort of person they need to bring things back from the brink. The odds of that person being me are likely nil because I know how corporate thinking goes... they’ll just find somebody with a Masters in bullshit from some video game company or whatever and we’ll repeat the process all over again until Linden Lab completely tanks, or they’ll get Philip to come back and then it’ll turn into a strategy to ween you off of Second Life and into the new and improved version called highfidelity.  


Which brings me to an aside that will probably irk some people:


Concerning Cloud Party: I told you so. Now you know why I wouldn’t buy the hype.


Now that that is out of the way, we can continue...


I make the same prediction about Oculus Rift while I’m at it... it’s not going to be ubiquitous, the hype will die down and in about a year or two it’ll be collecting dust. It is not a compelling way to use Second Life, although it is good in niche and limited doses for consuming media in short bursts. This is in total opposition to the 100 million dollars they raised and are on the line to repay about 1 billion in ROI for their shareholders which will likely never happen.


99% of the time, that thing is going to sit on the shelf collecting dust.


I know you don’t want to hear it... but it’s true. It’s not going to re-invigorate interest in Second Life at all. It’s a gimmick, and gimmicks are the sort of thing that CEOs usually employ to seem relevant as a last ditch effort before... oh right... they leave the company because they’ve exhausted all of their ideas and it’s not really working.


“Wow mom! An Oculus Rift for Christmas! Now I can get a Second Life account and truly experience virtual reality the way it was meant to be!”


Said absolutely nobody ever.


So I leave you with the following... which I think sums up my mood right now. Whoever becomes the new CEO of Linden Lab is likely to cock it up even more, and right now I’m enjoying the entertainment in watching it unfold like a train wreck in slow motion. Yes, Rodvik had to go... but that still leaves the question of whether or not the board are a bunch of idiotic masochists that are going to choose yet another C-Level and endure a few more years of punishment, corporate misdirection and lack of vision – or if they’ve finally figured out the problem and how to finally solve it.


I’m betting on the former, not the latter. Historically they haven’t shown themselves to be the brightest bunch, now have they?


Now if you’ll excuse me... there’s a kitten party to attend, and a tineh hat to wear.







  1. Replies
    1. Thank-you, John. I'm sure this saga is just as painful to watch for you as it is for me.

  2. Yes, it's difficult sometimes. Personally, I do my best to maintain the same perspective Dr. Victor Bergman had at the end of Space 1999. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCGwVT14S6g