Wednesday, February 05, 2014

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Linden Lab Hires Yahoo! Exec Ebbe Altberg as CEO - Announcement Emphasizes Blocksworld as Much as SL

Ebbe Altberg Linden Lab

After a couple weeks of silence following the sudden departure of Rod Humble as its CEO, Linden Lab just issued this press announcement that a guy called Ebbe Altberg is his replacement. Formely the COO of a communications software company called BranchOut (for just a year and a half), most of Altberg's recent experience is at Yahoo!, where he was SVP of Media Engineering and before that, VP Head of Audience. Unless I missed it, neither the announcement nor his LinkedIn mentions anything about 3D graphics, virtual reality, gaming, or related fields. Take that as you will. His experience at Yahoo! was definitely about creating and servicing mass market consumer experiences, so he has that going for him.

Also notable: The press release puts as much emphasis on Linden Lab's new (and successful) iOS app, Blocksworld, as Second Life. To wit:

“Linden Lab has long been at the forefront of building experiences that entertain people while empowering them to express themselves and profit from their creations,” said Altberg. “Our customers' creativity is unparalleled, and I’m proud to join the talented team that serves them. Second Life is now in its eleventh year, and every day, users continue to create more and more amazing experiences to enjoy. Though much younger, Blocksworld has already seen hundreds of thousands of unique user-created worlds shared for everyone to play with. I'm absolutely committed to supporting our customers and helping them become even more successful. There are significant opportunities ahead, and I look forward to leading us into the next phase of growth.”

Full announcement after the break for your reading and commenting pleasure. Linden spokesman Peter Gray -- who is still with the company, contrary to SLers wondering otherwise -- tells me a blog post about Altberg is coming soon to the Second Life portal, as is an interview opportunity with, well, me.

Ebbe Altberg Joins Linden Lab as CEO

2014-02-05

SAN FRANCISCO — February 5, 2014 — Linden Lab®, the makers of Second Life®BlocksworldTMDesuraTM, and more, today announced that Ebbe Altberg will lead the company as its new Chief Executive Officer.

Most recently prior to joining Linden Lab, Altberg was COO of BranchOut. Prior to that, he was part of the executive team at Yahoo!, most recently as SVP of Media Products. His more than 25 years of experience managing teams that create world-class products and services also includes leadership roles at Ingenio (acquired by at&t Interactive) and Microsoft.

“We remain committed to world-changing innovation from Linden Lab,” said Jed Smith of the company’s Board of Directors. “We’re keenly focused on providing incredible experiences for all of our customers, and Ebbe is the perfect person to help lead our team as we continue to serve and grow our global audience of active users."

“Linden Lab has long been at the forefront of building experiences that entertain people while empowering them to express themselves and profit from their creations,” said Altberg. “Our customers' creativity is unparalleled, and I’m proud to join the talented team that serves them. Second Life is now in its eleventh year, and every day, users continue to create more and more amazing experiences to enjoy. Though much younger, Blocksworld has already seen hundreds of thousands of unique user-created worlds shared for everyone to play with. I'm absolutely committed to supporting our customers and helping them become even more successful. There are significant opportunities ahead, and I look forward to leading us into the next phase of growth.”

About Linden Lab

Founded in 1999 and headquartered in San Francisco, Linden Lab makes shared creative spaces that inspire and empower users to explore and share their creativity with others.

For more about Linden Lab, its products, and career opportunities please visit LindenLab.com.

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Michi Lumin

I think people have to realize, that the CEO means far less to the condition of SL than the Board of Directors does.

And the BoD hasn't changed.

joe

Haw haw. The absolute nail in the coffin.

Look what happened to Branchout after they hired this guy.

http://www.ere.net/2012/06/23/branchout-keeps-falling-down-down/

The rest of his Yahoo experience seesawed bewteen mediocrity and absolute failure.

Ebbe will essentially be the George Bush of Second Life.

Pussycat Catnap

I'm hoping this is a guy who understands the idea of online communities as the core of the business model.

Not gaming, not B2B, not techxploration. But community.

That's possible with what he was - but it just as well could be that he's a marketing / eCommerce guy only; a salesman rather than communitarian.

We'll see once we get a little more info.

Ciaran Laval

Gray of The Lab can't leave, he's one of my most important characters.

Flashing Merlin

@Joe: Ebbe becomes the George Bush of SL? Will he lead SL to war? Perhaps a preemptive strike against World of Warcraft?

Not likely, however I have a worse fear: Ebbe becomes the Benedict Arnold of SL. Here's the paranoid fantasy: Rod left because he saw that revenue continued downward despite his efforts, and wanted to get out before it hit bottom. The SL BoD also saw the red ink of doom coming, but realized Yahoo had just bought out CloudParty, only to shut it down. Might there be a chance the SL BoD could also sell to Yahoo, and cash out their stock before bankruptcy overtook them? Why not hire someone who had worked at Yahoo as the new SL CEO, just to have him work out the terms of surrender to Yahoo? Based on Ebbe's inglorious resume, that would seem a likely explanation for his hire.

Hamlet, please ask Ebbe to "say it ain't so," or at least promise to give SL residents a chance to collectively bid against Yahoo, and turn SL into a non-profit, community based organization. Otherwise we may all start packing our inventory to leave for Open Sim prematurely.

JubJub

My longshot bet is that he will adopt the username E thereby proving himself another M.
While they keep recruiting business managers from a background of traditional corporate practices, SL will continue to decline.

The day the CEO's post says "here is a set of proposals, we'd like your input because you are our customers" is the day I regain my faith.

Inara Pey

@Michi

nail hit squarely on head. Said much the same when Mark Kingdon was given the heave-ho.

@Joe

Rick Marini was / is CEO (and founder) of BranchOut, and the article you refer to is for the time PRIOR to Ebbe Altberg joining the company (article dated June 2012, Altberg joined October 2012 as COO).

One can raise an eyebrow at Altberg joining after the company had hemorrhaged users as a result of changes at Facebook; but don't start tarring him for things that happened before he'd even arrived on their doorstep.

Jess

@ JubJub

You are exactly right..smiles

joe

@Fishing Merlin

How strange of you to overlook what GW Bush is mostly known for and that's sinking the economy and nearly dooming America. Next time I will spell it out for you since you're not able to guess the proper reference.

@ Inapay

The comparison to SL and Branch are what I was illuminating. In both cases, they were losing customers and GW came onto a wrecked ship and wrecked it more.

But what you all fail to see is GW's climb down the corporate ladder. He starts at Microsoft, falls to Yahoo, falls to some shipwrecked company and now lands at LL. Does that resume read like a guy whose on his way up? Cmon, wake up.

Roblem Hogarth

So how does this guy become the 5th horsemen of the SLpocalypse before he even starts. He is the new CEO of the lab, not SL-Hitler.

Emperor Norton

joe @ "GW Bush is mostly known for and that's sinking the economy and nearly dooming America."

Some of us say Bush freed millions of Americans from the tyranny of day to day jobs like he gave millions of Iraqis the freedom to torture their neighbors with power tools. Bush is the great liberator of American history.

Oink

@flashing merlin > The following sounds sensible... those other comments are rather unsensible polemics...

"Rod left because he saw that revenue continued downward despite his efforts, and wanted to get out before it hit bottom. The SL BoD also saw the red ink of doom coming, but realized Yahoo had just bought out CloudParty, only to shut it down. Might there be a chance the SL BoD could also sell to Yahoo, and cash out their stock before bankruptcy overtook them? Why not hire someone who had worked at Yahoo as the new SL CEO, just to have him work out the terms of surrender to Yahoo? Based on Ebbe's inglorious resume, that would seem a likely explanation for his hire."

Timo Gufler

Let's hope the new CEO makes LL to fix the content creators' rights issue. Or maybe the next one will, or next of next ... or ... Oh, well.

Oink

Elle Altberg needs to join Immersive World Angry Noob in Facebook
http://ht.ly/tkHUs

2014

the sky is falling! Leave it to SLU and NWN

pixxyfox

I am glad that they did not hire whatever former financial analyst from Morgan Goldman or whatever. Until proven otherwise I want to believe that Ebbe is a nice and smart down to the earth guy who will listen to his customers and get down to work at the Lab without much fanfare, focused on unspectacular but important improvements to Second Life. International users might want to get their hopes up now: he was born in Sweden and worked three years in Switzerland.

zzpearlbottom

So far all i can read from His twiter it looks like some that as a opening mind contrary to many!
May he try Sl Nascar racing and feel the heat:)

Metacam Oh

Still pissed I wasted money on Patterns. What a piece of garbage that was.

Linden Lab is like the famous actor who is also a second rate musician and only wants to talk about their musical career.

Blocksworld looks nice and all for kids but it's also in a market with a ton of other stuff most notably Minecraft and Lego. Second Life should be their main and most vital concern. They are not a "games" company. Indie developers and much smaller cheaper game companies pump out much better stuff and pump it out much quicker. I don't know what these guys are thinking in the Boardroom but they must be so money hungry they are not thinking clearly.

Jess

The new CEO posting in SLU instead of the real SL Forums just shows its business as usual..smiles

Sad that peggy and the forum helper team get ignored after years of helping residents while a private forum that is filled with trollish thugs gets rewarded

Carry on everyone its business as usual nothing to new to see

2014

@ Jess

But, but, SLU is where are the crusties, who are barely in-world know everythingggggg! Just ask them, they'll tell you they know it all.

Jess

@ Metacam Oh

I for one agree to that point of view and think they sould keep all other business aspects separated including a separate terms of service

I believe linden lab sould shut down SL and just selling the biggest asset they have The secret recipe of how to make your entire customer base gullible as gold fish I bet cola cola or macdonalds would pay a fortune for it..smiles

Informer

SLU is full of aggressive residents, but they are people who have seen everything and are worth listening to, once you can paddle your way through the venom.

Dear CEO: Lower or repackage tier prices or SL has no future. It's that simple. The land market will completely die with these unsustainable prices that more and more can no longer afford.

They are prices from when technology was more expensive and people had more disposable income.

US$295 per month for a private region is almost incomprehensible in 2014.

Dartagan Shepherd

Oh.

Jess

-> Informer

You are spot on regarding land prices being the killer of our world as we know it

One thing I would like to add is the closure of the Atlas Program they need to make the system fair again.. Smiles

http://community.secondlife.com/t5/Land/What-is-the-Atlas-Program/qaq-p/1936067

What many residents do not know is when they increased tier a few years back for everyone that was not the case they took around 40 select residents as land barons and lowered their tier even more a month..smiles upside down

you pay 295.00 a month and try to rent it out
a land baron at 55% discount pays 135.00 a month
under old pricing+discount who wins and grows well its very easy to see..smiles

Ever see all those big water region private estates that you can boat on all day? and wonder how they could manage to pay for it all and make a profit well know you know even if they have half the regions empty they still are making a profit..

Discount of current Atlas Program
20 regions you get 20% discount
150 regions you get 35% discount
500 regions 45% discount
1001 or more regions you get 55% discount plus
no fee for renames or region moves and several free regions offered thru out the year plus special cash outs and reimbursements.

All subject to change depending how well loved they are by the lab and under contract I got the stats from an unnamed source its a year old
so some things might be different now.

This is why I believe they will never lower the tier for the average resident because they already have just to those they like.

Ajax Manatiso

Just about everyone agrees that lowering the tier will get more people to invest in land. The problem is, how can the CEO suggest to the board to lower prices when the biggest problem SL faces is a drop in revenue? It's a conundrum.

Jess

@ Ajax Manatiso


100 million dollar buying spree the last 5 years for 25 company's
so the bigger question is are those company's creating enough profit combined to allow breathing room for the lab to reduce it reliance on SL for its main profits.

If the board that is seated who are big hedge funds and equality firms get their normal share of the BIG PIE uninterrupted the dream of lower tier could happen...Smiles

We could even have a renaissance if all went well with lower tiers it could be really turn SL around and bring the millions who left home to take another look at SL..Smiles

Risk is they lower tier and it backfires then the board does not get its promised pie they may let one or two quarters slid after that it will lead to a hostile board takeover/heads roll and even a forced merger with another tech company one of the equality firms is all possible .. scary

Really they only have 2 options

" Damned if you do & Damned if you don't "


Masami

If Altberg's leaked Microsoft memo is any indication, this guy will try some dirty tricks. The next two years will be entertaining for sure.

I hear he has already been introduced to SL's landlord mob: "Welcome to SL, Ebbe. We are the people you need to be on good terms with."

I'm looking forward to Hamlet asking him the mother of all questions:

"Second Life has been shrinking and losing customers continuously for the past four years. What are you going to do to turn this trend around?"

If he responds along the lines of "There are some plans, but I can't talk about them yet", then you'll know that this guy is coming to LL with empty hands and no clue.

zzpearlbottom

I for one would like to see this:
Private regions packs only (never less then 50 full regions, mandatory to be open to all, mandatory to be connected to allow travel in between without use of teleport!)
Only allow current landlords to be able to buy those!
Close with the choice of refunding with same amount of land on mainland, all full regions, owned by All residents that don't belong to the group that has at least 100 ful regions already working!
Make clear on the Tos that:
Mainland is the place for any to get land if premium!
If not premium, then to rent from a restrict group of landlords, that know how to apply covenant rules and ensure they work, well established ones!
That Sky boxes in mainland will never be used above 1025m (auto return without warning of all bellow that!)
That no sec orbs or

zzpearlbottom

similar devices will be allowed in mainland already most not allowed or with severe restrictions on the private states where covenant rules are applied!
Create much more Adult regions in mainland and make sure the strict group of landlords understand that:
SL is no different then any in internet, without sex and adult content available it will never survive!
Sex and or adult content in good proportions are not only healthy but natural, denying that is typical of poor minds that had no place on Sl!
Show all the way out to Open Sim or similar, if they dont like this!
There any can make their own rules and create their own regions!
But a commercial grid with the advantage that Sl has, of allowing users to travel in between large amounts of land without the use of teleports, must bet all cards on that!
And to be clear, this is my idea of SL, a restrict adult virtual world for those who can afford it, not all can afford a Mercedes, but that does not mean Daimler benz is not profitable!

zzpearlbottom

So does any still think Alt can be a bad Ceo?
Fear if I was the one choosed instead!

Pussycat Catnap

"SLU is full of aggressive residents, but they are people who have seen everything and are worth listening to, once you can paddle your way through the venom."

The posters on the official forums are a LOT more intuned to both what has come before in SL and what is going on now. The same for the people on the Feeds - except the feeds also include Drama and personal stuff.

SLU is where you go once you've been banned from SL. It is also where a number of active merchants go - but they are not as in tune to the scene as the merchants who occupy the official forum's merchant forum.

LLs at present has a gold mine of people on its own forums, that it fails to notice - due to past history with its own mismanagement of earlier forums.

Pussycat Catnap

"If Altberg's leaked Microsoft memo"

???

Link?

Jess

@ Pussycat Catnap

You are so right! Instead of making the SL Forums a FLAGSHIP of our interworld connection between residents to build a stronger community,
Past lindens gave a wink and a nod to encourage that the SLU to be the main 'unofficial forum'
this has exposed residents to a biased group who new residents believe represent the help they are looking for while looking for the real forums online.

All goes back to linden lab creating an upper class of residents that still control the land & rule the marketplace after all these years.

Will this CEO get it I think not! they should have promoted within like many successful enterprises do but instead have brought in another outsider after the last two

Also I think the CEO should have been a woman yes I know its sounds bias but this is only due to needing a woman's inherent natural networking skills and advanced social skills and if no woman fitted the bill they should have hired a past linden that did.

There should be a big non drop down menu button in the viewer right next to the buy money the button that says ' official community help forum' or at its simplest 'Community Help' that leads directly to the forums.

Jess

@ zzpearlbottom

Dear pearl, My biggest fear is Linden Lab wanted a new CEO and the residents wanted a pixel Jesus Christ they have dreamt of but alas my fear is
We got a Dieter Zetsche from DaimlerChrysler
Instead of a Ellen Kullman of DuPont.

Ebbe Altberg - if you come across this and have read it its only stated out of tough love so please prove myself and others wrong that we are not going to be trapped in a another virtual ground hogs day type movie scenario.

Kim Anubis

I'm looking forward to meeting Ebbe. He's an interesting choice.

Jumpman Lane

Ebbe dissed me on twitter so i aint a fan. (Tho i was cussin out some hashtag amanda knox haters so maybe he thought i was busy). I unno. Only a "Jumpman Lane Day" in Second Life would appease me. :)

2014

Ebbe, please don't read NWN or SLU, they are about .01% of SL, and most are vile, barely log in, bitter because SL isn't what THEY want it to be. The other 99.9% of your customers enjoy SL just fine.

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