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.)
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