Monday, October 22, 2012

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Very Few Lindens Remain from Linden Lab's Founding Years

Last week I talked about this post by fellow Linden alum Jeska Kittenbrink, who fondly wrote about the Linden engineers' favorite whiskey, and included this great, nostalgia-making photo from 2005, when the staff celebrated the second anniversary of Second Life:

Linden Lab 2005

Click to see a full embiggenable version on her blog. I vividly remember when this photo was taken, because I'm just outside the frame. (Since I was still in full-time "embedded journalist" mode, I thought it wise if I maintain some distance, though of course I grabbed a drink immediately after.) In any case, this brings up a question with a purpose, which I put to longtime SL fans:

Of the 35 people pictured here in 2005, how many are still working at Linden Lab?

Answer: Very few. In fact, just a handful:

To my knowledge, only programmer Richard (at far right), QA head Kona (in the "27" jersey) and founding engineer Andrew (just behind Kona's right shoulder) are still with the company. (Lindens reading this, please let me know if I'm missing any.) So 3 for 35 or so. (And while the company was 35 or so strong in 2005, in 2012, it's some 250.)

From one perspective, this is not surprising, because in the tech industry, it's rare for someone to stay at a start-up for 3 years, let alone 7. From another angle, it's a way to remind users of Second Life-- many who started around this time and are still active -- how much the company that's supporting their activity has changed. Some are not aware of this reality, and are surprised that they know more about Second Life than many Lindens do. One reason: Because very few who could remember are there any longer. And keep that in mind when you consider Linden Lab's latest moves to becoming a maker of multiple shared creative spaces.

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Ciaran Laval

How many can you identify? Pictures like this should be saved somewhere for historical purposes.

Pussycat Catnap

As you note, this is the norm in the tech industry.

To survive in one place, you have to be a Dilbert boss...

Daniel

Kelly (Washington) and I think Char (Broersma) are also still there

Marianne McCann

Guy and Michael are still about

Dave Bell

You wrote, "From one perspective, this is not surprising, because in the tech industry, it's rare for someone to stay at a start-up for 3 years, let alone 7."

How many tech start-ups survive for three years? That is something that would skew the figures. I've only anecdotal evidence from friends, but it is consistent with that figure being dominated by company survival.

Hamlet Au

That's a good point! But yeah, if a startup survives past 3 years, it's rare for the same people to still be working there.

shockwave yareach

Perhaps LL needs to stop thinking like a start up, and start thinking like it is an entertainment company? That's the bulk of what users use it for. It would be nice if things were run and priced like an entertainment product of 2012 instead of the "Get Rich Now" money machine of 2006.

But hey, it must be a California thing to run companies into ruin and call it successful.

Pussycat Catnap

Its not just startups. In the vast majority of tech jobs, the only path to any kind of promotion is to go work somewhere else... So people do, frequently.

And even if you're not on that treadmill, the startups lure folks out of the non-startups, and vice-versa, at a constant rapid pace.

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