Tuesday, August 16, 2011

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Ozimal Stats: Virtual Animal Business in Second Life Has 1000s of Customers, 30 Employees & 1 Blind Lead Developer

Ozimals Creator Cameron Holt

At SLCC I met Cameron Holt (in SL: Aeron Constantine), the lead developer of Ozimals, the popular brand of virtual breedable animals in Second Life, and he shared some interesting business stats with me:

  • Ozimals currently has 1000s of customers in SL.
  • At one point, Ozimals had over ten thousand customers in SL.
  • Ozimals, the Alabama-based company, has nearly 30 employees (mostly part-time) who are paid wages in US dollars. (Employees also get, of course, virtual bunny fringe benefits.)

Ozimals SL breedable animals

He and Ozimal's co-owner Candace Sargent (who joined our conversation), declined to share how much revenue the company made, but given the number of employees they have, I'd say low-to-mid six figures US$ is a reasonable estimate. What's striking about this figure is that Ozimals is just one of many successful virtual breedable animals companies operating in Second Life, and quite possibly not the largest.

If you're wondering why Cameron Holt is wearing dark glasses indoors, there's a very good reason for that: Mr. Holt is blind, and has been so since childhood, able to see form and color, but not much more than that. He uses a Windows magnifier, text-to- speech software, and other tools to use the computer. So the lead developer of a leading business in Second Life cannot see the 3D digital creations he's made which have given his thousands of customers so much entertainment. I told him this was an impressive thing, building a successful small business of virtual goods that employs dozens of people, all while being blind. Cameron told me this was no big deal, since he's been sight-impaired all his life. Others, I suspect, will disagree.

Photo by Yoz Linden

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Nyoko Salome

;0 i will personally disagree, although mr. holt's umbrage is understood. :) a fantastic thing to be successful enough in sl!! :)

Nalates Urriah

Yeah, those that are good make it look easy... Congrats to Cameron and Candace.

Melissa Yeuxdoux

Building a successful business in SL is impressive regardless of one's eyesight. Well done!

Swords

The work is very versatile, with so many concentrations intermingling,

Arcadia Codesmith

I'd like to know less about Cameron's eyesight and more about his vision. As lead designer, what are his views on where the company has been and where does he want to go with it?

I don't mean to downplay "overcoming adversity" as a hook, because it IS impressive, but ultimately the success of the enterprise in interesting in its own right and I'd like to hear more about it.

Winter Jefferson

Thank you for making it just that bit easier for me to stalk Aeron IRL Hamlet.

Imma getchoooo Monkeyman.

<3

whispers magic

I'm right there with ya Winter! Let's team up and tag team him! Aeron is amazing RL and SL no matter what he does! I am honored to call him my friend and Bunny King! <3

Stroker

The whole team conducted themselves exceptionally. I can see why Ozimal's is a success in SL. I have to agree with Arcadia..where's the beef? Let's hear about some innovation and vision. FTR..Aeron is one swank and witty guy, if he's available I would be amazed. I'm jus sayin' ~.^

Alejandro

If miss Candace were available I would be amazed. Just sayin.

Candy Cerveau

Thanks for bringing Cameron out into the spotlight, I certainly think he deserves it - he amazes me all the time with what he has accomplished and what he continues to do. I once was able to experience his sight restrictions through special educational glasses and I could barely function, much less do a fraction of what he does every day. His drive and work ethic is really admirable.

Just a couple of quick corrections (I know you guys just had a brief conversation in the hallway, and I'm sorry we weren't able to chat more in depth!) We do have thousands of customers, that's true. However, the post seems to read though as if 10,000 was our max number and we've declined from that, which isn't accurate.
We have 30 employees (mostly part time yes, working all time zone shifts) but the majority of them are paid in lindens, not US dollars. Only 3 employees are paid in USD. Some choose to get partial compensation in bunny food rather than lindens, but we restrict the bunny benefits to only that so that there is no possible conflict of interest.

Sitearm

@Wagner; Hi! I might add that Cameron and the other members of the Ozimals team, whom I met at SLCC (Bristle and Candy), rock! Cheers! : ) Site

Talvin Muircastle

*WINCE*

"Sight Impaired". WHY do people feel the need to hang such a stupid label on people?

I know people who are Blind. (Married one, as it happens.) I know people who are Visually Impaired. (Which is functionally different.)

I do not know anybody who says, "I am Sight-Impaired", and many who find it offensive. It's a made-up PC label. Please drop it.

Malkavyn Eldritch

@Hamlet
It was a pleasure meeting you at SLCC. Thanks for saying hi and your time on the article.

@Nyoko
Thank you for compliment. We have a great team that works with us and if it wasn't for them we wouldn't be successful in my opinion. Every day I'm amazed by their dedication to the product and our company.

@Arcadia
I'm with you - I don't look at my disability at all. My name is Malkavyn Eldritch in world. Feel free to IM me or come to any of our community meetings. We're happy to answer any questions you have if we can!

@Stroker
You're too kind. Thank you for the kind words. It was nice to meet you and listen to your story and words of encouragement.

@Winter/Whispers
You two are silly - and you know as long time friends of mine I <3 you both. Thank you for your support.

@Sitearm
Pleasure meeting you! Bristle did an amazing job helping represent what we are about at Ozimals. Thank you for mentioning that.

@Talvin
I don't mind any "label" anyone gives me. Only you as a the person can understand what it means to have a disability no matter what the type. I think people just try to be as polite as possible but don't quite know the right words.


I couldn't do Ozimals without Candy. She's what keeps me going when things get stressed to the max. If it wasn't for her there wouldn't be bunnies in the first place. (and I might have 9 more 85's on WoW!) Thank you everyone for your kind words of encouragement and your support of Ozimals!

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