What Bob "BK Linden" Komin's Departure as CFO Likely Means for Linden Lab & Second Life
Finally confirming what sources told me back in June, Bob "BK Linden" Komin has officially left his position as Linden Lab's Chief Financial Officer. The company site no longer lists him, and spokesman Peter Gray just said as much to me directly, saying, "Bob Komin has moved on to pursue a new opportunity". However, Gray added, "we plan to hire a new CFO".
Komin's tenure as CFO provokes a lot of mixed reactions among insiders -- everyone credits him for getting Linden Lab back to a stable base of high profit, even if that meant laying off a third of the staff in the wake of former CEO Mark Kingdon, who greatly increased spending before his exit in 2010. Komin's also generally credited (or blamed) for instituting a more traditional corporate management hierarchy on Linden Lab staff, which from one point of view, gave staffers more focus, and from another point of view, finally diminished the democratic, "Tao of Linden" spirit Philip Rosedale instituted during his time as CEO.
So what's this mean for Linden Lab and Second Life? From what I glean and interpret, this: Bob Komin has helped prepare Linden Lab for a post-Second Life era, in which SL is less and less central to the company's strategy and plans. Here's how:
Through the 2010 layoffs and other subsequent departures/firings, he's trimmed down the number of Linden Lab staff directly working on Second Life. At the same time, with the entrance of CEO Rod Humble, he's helped direct the profit from Second Life to several non-SL products, including the projects Patterns, the Minecraft-like game which I wrote about here, and Dio, the text adventure game platform I wrote about here. At this point, Linden Lab has a very large cash reserve to finance and launch these projects and others we're likely soon to hear about. Second Life development will continue, of course, but less and less will be spent on it. Notably, during his tenure Bob Komin did not introduce a new revenue model to Second Life, certainly nothing that will replace the continued loss of private sims, the company's main revenue source. But Linden Lab will still be drawing a profit from these sims for the next 1-3 years, more than enough to subsidize still more non-SL projects.
At this point, in any case, much of Linden Lab's management, many of whom have a game development background, likely see Second Life as a legacy MMO which has run its course. (After all, Electronic Arts, where Rod Humble was once executive, still has Ultima Online among its properties, and that's been around since the mid-90s.) With the launch of new SL development tools, followed by a steady withdrawal of company resources, the future of Second Life will soon be almost completely in the hands of its users.