Friday, March 14, 2008

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Open Forum: What's Philip Linden's Departure Mean For Second Life And The Lindens?

Interviewing_philip_linden
The news is here;

Linden Lab Chief Executive Philip Rosedale said on Friday the company he founded has begun a search for a new CEO with more operational and management expertise.

Philip's personal announcement is here:

As we grow, the role of our CEO will increasingly be to hire and grow the right team - to lead and help the company scale - to thousands of people and tens of millions of users of Second Life... I am not going anywhere! I will focus on product strategy and vision, continuing to design the right kind of company, and being an effective communicator and evangelist about Second Life.

I'm writing up my reaction now.  What's yours?

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Harper Ganesvoort

First blush: Residents will have to wonder how much a new CEO will affect the current lifestyle of the Grid; and I'm not referring to solving problems of lag, etc. A new hand in the Governor's chair will likely mean some, if not many, changes in the "laws" of Second Life, and time will have to tell what and how much the Grid will tolerate. I supported the banking ban and a few other things since I joined; but the more libertarian elements think that those were changes for the worse. What will they say when a more business-model-oriented CEO starts making decisions?

Jamming Independent

Maybe we'll get an interface that's a little less clunky?

I share Harper's fear re: losing the libertarian element of the Grid. OTOH, I wouldn't mind seeing things like lag, etc. get addressed in a substantive way through proven business processes, either.

Takuan Daikon

What's my reaction? I still don't know, despite having written a reactionary blog post about the news.

I guess at this point - until I've had more chance to think about the implications - it could be summed up as "Hope for the best, prepare for the worst".

I think there's a pretty good chance that this will light a fire under the asses of those responsible for stability and user retention, but I also think that it's just as likely - if not more so - that it will end up evolving into a Second Life where so-called "non professional" content creators like myself are even less valued in favor of attracting the "big players".

I am very much looking forward to *your* reaction, and getting the perspective of someone who has been around since the early days.

Valerie Bethune

1) Holy crap. 2) Maybe he misread the AOL/Bebo news stories? :-)

maxieM

I don't think we, the users, will see much difference, as it seems Philip will still be at the helm of what we experience with SL. The new CEO's job sounds like it will be more the day-to-day operations of Linden Lab. I think it's very wise of Philip to realize his expertise is with the vision of SL and not the nuts and bolts of running a growing company such as SL. It will be interesting to see who comes into this new position, especially that person's background.

Tinsel Silvera

I Second what MaxieM says. I would think this decision will have more impact on LL as a company than on SL as a world. At least in the beginning anyway.

Ann Otoole

LL put a lot of effort into an attempt to attract corporations to Secondlife. So much so there was the general appearance this was the strategy intended to drive Secondlife forward. Gartner releases an analysis warning corporations away from Secondlife because the platform is unstable and is unreliable. Within 72 hours Rosedale announces his impending departure.

The "Tao of Linden" made the above possible. My hope is that someone outside of the small circle of LL leadership takes the reigns. Someone who knows how to deal with people that do not like to work to a schedule of priorities and a budget.

Would be nice if SL underwent an analysis and subsequent rewrite beginning with the data architecture. LL would have to hire in a lot of true world class talent and would have to pay market rates for said talent since there are not a lot of professionals willing to bet their retirement on whatever LL looks like on the inside.

Immediate effects? None.

Long term effects? Depends on who takes over and whether or not they are a true leader or are a dog on Phil's leash. Also depends on whether or not the new leader is as open minded as Phil is. SL resides at the end of a tenuous thread. A lot of the creativity in SL evolves around subject matter your standard executive won't like. If the environment becomes oppressive then SL will drop like a dead fly. Forterra is the leader in simulation systems for corporate and government entities and SL has not a chance at entering that market without creating multiple grids. I.e.; The public grid for entertainment and private secure grids where businesses go. Go back to the point about a total rewrite as this would be a requirement before true commercial secure grids could happen.

Overall?

I see this as a great positive for Phil. He moves up into a new league of players where he can serve on multiple boards and spread his creative influence across a wider spectrum.

Can't go wrong with that.

When is the party?

Alan

Anyone got a copy of the press release that Steve Jobs issued when Sculley was appointed CEO?

Peggy Nelson

BMan and SL are both places where you (with others) create your own reality. And although there are certainly people who could thrive in (either) environment who have not been to either "there" yet, it is also the case that not everyone wants to do that. I think it makes perfect sense to hand the reins over if the race is now about growth and stability and other biz tropes - let someone who is excited about those goals achieve them. But SL is never going to become the new possibility space that it set out to be, by focusing on increasing subscribers and profit margins. I am glad that PR is going to stay on as CotB, and I hope that in that role he can continue to focus on the creative kernel at the center of the expanding multiverse from which the new and the different emerge.

Mark Brown

It takes guts for a founding visionary entrepreneur to step aside and hand the reigns over to another. Ultimately the vision has to be more important than any individual, even the source of that vision. Of course the key now is getting just the right CEO. As a CEO myself (and no I won't be putting my hand up!) my advice is to find someone who is not so much a visionary as a strategist. More of an organizational and strategic technician. The key to scaling an organization is in the deployment of resources: in particular creating the right environment and structures ready to meet the planned growth. So for me, I.T expertise is minor to this, what they need is a first class strategist.

http://brownblog.info/

Lem Skall

I am concerned about this change, especially because of losing Mitch Kapor as the chairman of the board. IMO, Philip will actually have even more control over the general vision of LL and SL and he will be less accountable than before. With all due respect for what he has achieved, he is too young, inexperienced, and business-immature to be left so loose. I believe Mitch Kapor was a balancing element that was bringing maturity and wisdom that will now have less of an influence.

I am also wondering who will want to be the CEO under these terms? He/she will be responsible only for the operational details while the vision will be mostly under the control of a chairman who is emotionally involved in the company and who is still staying involved even in the daily operations.

Yes, LL needs a change of guard. But it should not be done with Philip moving to the top. He should get over his emotions and learn to be second fiddle to a new CEO, while Kapor (or someone else like him) stays on as chairman.

Maybe, just maybe, this is not even about Philip stepping "down" from CEO but about Kapor stepping "out". Isn't he getting more involved in a new venture and maybe he doesn't have enough time anymore for LL?

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