Op/Ed: Catering to Corporations, Running Over Residents?

by Alphaville Herald on 27/02/09 at 8:14 am

by Tenshi Vielle

It's not like the support quality of Second Life has gone down any further. It's stayed at rock bottom since last year's great insurgency of newbies thanks to Linden Lab's draw of corporations and those corporations' subsequent advertising measures. Some residents are fairly convinced that Linden Lab is losing its focus, and grabbing for money more than the grassroots participation of the residents.

Why, when big-name corporations are turning their attention away from the virtual world of Second Life (Electric Sheep Company's projects have majorly all pulled out, and other corporate projects have shut down their islands in recent months) is Linden Lab still focusing on the corporations instead of turning inward and paying the residents a bit more attention? Turning to the residents and thanking them for their years of dedication would be a bittersweet move.

Of course, the Linden method of kissing corporate ass is nothing new. On October 20, 2008, the Lindens announce they are partnering with Rivers Run Red, to (assuming) drive more corps to SL via the “Immersive Workspaces” project. On October 27th, the Lindens not-so-strangely announce that Open Sim prices will be driven up 200% – from $75/mo to $125/mo with no grandfathering for residents. This absolutely enraged the Open Sim owners, and caused quite the stir at many Second Life forums. One should note that it clearly says “residents” on the blog, in an exclusive sort of manner, and blames the Residents for this, saying the workload became too much for the servers and OpenSpaces were never meant to be used by the residents for actual, you know – digital residing. To quote Jack Linden:

“Rather than being employed as open areas like ocean with little or no content and traffic, the majority are being rented out to residents looking for a place to live. Because they were never intended for that level of load this is causing problems. For some people this has meant a less than great experience with performance fluctuations. The overuse of Openspaces has also put additional strain on some of our network and database infrastructure at a much higher ratio than is reflected in the current pricing. So higher traffic to and from the servers along with heavier demands on the asset server, both of which impact the overall experience people have inworld.” 

Gee, thanks Jack Linden. Love you too. I suppose you guys were also pissed because people stopped buying normal sims in favor for the cheaper OpenSpace ones – and lowering the price a tad on the original sims didn't occur to you guys? Or maybe they just ignored the obvious solution. I digress.

Lest we forget, there was also last year's debacle regarding the branding of Second Life, and how certain domain names and user-created areas now had to adhere to Linden Lab's new rules or face a lawsuit. No grandfathering allowed there, either. One should also note that Linden Lab has stopped advertising SL metrics, and it could be assumed that this is because while they are slowly pushing their Residents out, they want to reign corporations in.

The beginning of the end? 

Next up on our “indicator of DOOM” is that LL quickly snapped up both OnRez and XstreetSL for no apparent good reason. Residents liked those sites, liked the competition. OnRez would have been a foreseeable acquisition by LL because of the way the Electric Sheep Company fled from SL last year after complications with the IRS. No one uses a website that's barely supported like OnRez became. However, what's the point of obtaining a successful site like XstreetSL unless it's to eventually collapse that as well?

Lindens are also leaving the company in near droves beside the Residents who are angrily dumping their land. Now, it could be said that these Lindens left to go on to “bigger and better things”, or “new opportunities”, as they tend to say – however, given previous evidence I firmly believe that these Lindens have been told to seek other employment before they are laid off due to “downsizing”. (re: Linden Lab has moved on entirely to supporting the Immersive Workspaces project and no longer needs such a large staff for Resident support or server upkeep.) Lindens of note that have jumped ship in the last year: Cory, Robin, Sidewinder, Katt, and a few others.

Possibly the creepiest and most disconcerting thought in all of this is that Linden Lab appears to be pushing what appears to be a physical, tangible product in the Immersive Workspaces webpage

Is this why LL has begun to seemingly stop PR and working with the residents – because they're working on closing off Second Life from the public and into a corporate-only promotional product with RRR? Imagine this software being sold to individual corporations with the intent of these corporations setting the original SL spinal programming on their own servers. LL could essentially ditch their own servers and simply be a troubleshooting sort of company, a middleman with offices and no real technical duties other than support. They wouldn't have to worry about trying to please the residents any more, only these giant corporations – which would make them a considerably larger amount of cash.

Business wise, that would be a fantastic move for Linden Lab. For the residents, however – that's a thought that really sucks.

Where's the love, LL?

15 Responses to “Op/Ed: Catering to Corporations, Running Over Residents?”

  1. Cai Pirinha

    Feb 27th, 2009

    Wow, what a foolish article. Lets take looks at some of the most laughable points:

    1: “It’s not like the support quality of Second Life has gone down any further.”
    > I always found the support guys trying to be very helpful. Sometimes they are a bit hapless but its really not bad.

    2: “Of course, the Linden method of kissing corporate ass is nothing new.”
    > There is *nothing* wrong with trying to offer sims to companies in order to build another revenue stream. Didn’t seem to have worked though (yet) but you can’t blame them for trying.

    3: “the Lindens not-so-strangely announce that Open Sim prices will be driven up 200% – from $75/mo to $125/mo”
    > Girl, learn some math then come back again. Thanks.

    4: “Last year’s debacle regarding the branding of Second Life, and how certain domain names and user-created areas now had to adhere to Linden Lab’s new rules or face a lawsuit.”
    > Face it, they have the right to protect their brand like everybody else has. You could also register as well to keep your name, couldn’t you? Btw, show me one single lawsuit about this.

    5: “Next up on our “indicator of DOOM” is that LL quickly snapped up both OnRez and XstreetSL for no apparent good reason.”
    > Is it so difficult to assume they would like to take a bigger cut from the sale of virtual goods and get a better web catalogue like Habbo and IMVU have? /me looks at point 3 .. ahh i guess it is for some people

    6: “On October 20, 2008, the Lindens announce they are partnering with Rivers Run Red, to (assuming) drive more corps to SL via the “Immersive Workspaces” project.” … ” because they’re working on closing off Second Life from the public and into a corporate-only promotional product with RRR?”
    > Wow, this is really rubbish beyond belief. “Immersive Workspaces” is simply a separate grid behind a corporate firewall – like a mini SL for only a single company. Yeah, I know, shock horror *yawns

  2. Tenshi Vielle

    Feb 27th, 2009

    I’m slightly embarrassed. That rant was Prok-worthy in length.

  3. koxinell lane

    Feb 27th, 2009

    Maybe you should wait for the new LL’s direction to reach their objectives, at least to develop their plans, before writing this dark conclusion ?

    LL is currently working hard on helping communities of residents too, trying to find new ways to improve users first hour experience.

    There are many opportunities to collapse the gap between businesses and residents. Both are essential to SL in financial and mediatic terms. LL knows it of course. Let’s give them some time to fulfill their plans.

  4. Ciaran Laval

    Feb 27th, 2009

    They’re in transition, it’s way too early to be a harbinger of doom. The Openspace issue was one shoddy piece of work though and something they should be ashamed of.

    Snapping up XStreet and Onrez gives them a platform that could serve several virtual worlds, so that’s not such a strange move.

    Immersive workspaces makes sense too, offering different solutions to different needs.

    There will be some losses on land in this global economic crisis, whether Linden Lab have the ability to offer solutions is where the challenge lies and based on their history, they don’t, but as I said, it’s all in transition.

  5. doa

    Feb 27th, 2009

    It will kinda be fun to watch the secondlife carcass further decay and LL writh and contort in pain, lashing out wildly, gnawing off limbs as the body dies. But a forced permanent extraction from SL is the best thing that could happen to people. Take care of your real lives right now! If you do not you will loose them. Period. You now have far greater problems to deal with than wondering how to arrange “prims” on a pixeldust “sim”. Second Life is pathetic and will be viewed so increasingly in the future. It will be seen as a gigantic time waster and a recipe for sure fail in the RL. The era of being able to sit on your butt and waste the months and years away immersed in an online computer game are over. Thankfully. Wake up useless eater!

  6. G T F O

    Feb 27th, 2009


    alyx could learn some good stuff from someone like you.
    hell EVERYONE could learn some good stuff from you!
    doa dont go anywheres the smegma-verse NEEDS YOU!
    doa youve found your calling & youre doing it RIGHT! (unlike alyx)


  7. Ann Otoole

    Feb 27th, 2009

    Third or fourth quarter 2009 is when the infrastructure is expected to become capable of supporting a heavy influx of new residents. There are millions of dollars being spent on these efforts to make Second Life scale. If Linden Lab wanted to just wall the garden and serve corporations only because it was so valuable then they would drop the residents to staunch the burn rate right now. It makes zero sense in any direction to continue with the massive projects underway if the intent is to shut the residents out and throw all that money invested away since Second Life is already capable of handling the one or 2 corporate meetings for 10 or less people that might be booked in the next 20 years.

    This is why only business people should attempt to write business articles. Business people understand money flow.

    2010 will be better. Why? Because 2010 is when the economy will begin to move back up towards the positive again and the money will begin to flow. If you are not willing to stick it out through the tough times then by all means I encourage you to leave now and save us all of your nastiness and parting shots.

    What really needs to happen is Linden Lab split into 2 divisions. One for this meeting room thing and one entertainment division run by entertainment business people. The entertainment side can carry the ideological theoreticians as they futilely try to create a business from a space devoid of customers. Until the board conducts the next dead wood removal exercise that is.

  8. eXistenZ

    Feb 27th, 2009

    Second life represents the human evolution into digital carbon units, it’s just the beginning, the Matrix film only hints at how big SL will get.

  9. Alyx Stoklitsky

    Feb 27th, 2009

    “LL quickly snapped up both OnRez and XstreetSL for no apparent good reason.”

    No good reason???

    How about MAKING MONEY? You know, the whole fucking purpose of running their business.

  10. Rag Tag

    Feb 28th, 2009

    I am glad those Bums have finally catered to L.T.D. This is going to be a huge year for us. Watch out Chumps for 2009!

  11. Snappy

    Mar 2nd, 2009

    Let’s check out this scene”

    I’m a properly chastened CEO or CFO of a corporation who not only had to cut jobs, trim costs, and try to keep my company afloat, but had to give up my corporate jet, my summer house in the Hamptons, and my mistress. And some guys comes up to me…

    Underling: Hey boss, gotta idea. Let’s rent a couple of islands in this place called Second Life and we can use that for our meetings.

    Me: (Thinks and then smiles). You mean someplace in the Caribbean? Good idea, maybe we can use it as our domicile and not pay corporate taxes. Plus maybe we can write it off as an expense! I can see how you survived the job cuts!

    Underling: No boss, it’s a virtual place. You know, a place online. On some servers owned by a company based in San Francisco. We’d be buying these virtual islands from them. And then all we have to do is pay a fee every month to maintain them. The coolest thing is that then we can meet online as avatars, you know we can show up as all sort of shapes and sizes, like for example a giant rabbit or a dominatrix.

    Me: (Frowns). What? Why buying virtual islands and then paying maintenance fees? From some company in San Francisco I’ve never heard of???? And to do what? There must be an advantage to doing this, right? Is it better than our video conferencing equipment?

    Underling: No

    Me: (Frown deepens). Can I show Powerpoint slides? Or be certain that proprietary confidential information is secure?

    Underling: Uh… no.

    Me: (Looking at underling harshly} So what the hell am I paying for?

    Underling: Well, boss, it’s kinda cool.

    Me: (Looks thoughtfully) You know, I was wrong. I apologize. You’re fired.

  12. Jumpman Lane

    Mar 2nd, 2009

    @ alix the chump why dont u make some fuckin money and invest it in ya busted avi. u look like an unflushed turd inna toilet in some pub u like to hang out in u fuckin furriner. alla this i wear this freebie crap caws im a griefer wasnt stylish in 06/07. hehehehehhhe . keep scriptin boxes! u remain a chump and i remain as ever Jumpman Lane.

  13. Love That Snappy!

    Mar 2nd, 2009

    Love that Snappy!

    Made me laugh my ass off!

    Oh Snap!

    We need more from old Snappy over there. Keep em coming! You’re like a new sensation! No kidding! Don’t let us down! Bring it on!


  14. Orion

    Mar 2nd, 2009

    Speaking of this immersive spaces crap, get a load of RRR’s project list:

    1 – A tabloid news company that publishes staged stories about pedophilia in Second Life

    2 – Prim shoes that have been around since late 2006 (my first n00B pair btw)

    3 – The biggest noobie club festival since the creation of man erhm avatar kind

    4 – A virtual cell phone that lets you text your friends from in-world while you’re busy yiffing away in the sex sims

    5 – Virtual models of office chairs where /your avatar/ can judge the comfort and functionality of each

  15. At0m0 Beerbaum

    Mar 5th, 2009

    @ Orion

    Finally a comment with some insight.

    RRR has a lot of feel good “immersive” crap. But at the end of the day, much of it is useless.

    I work for a growing company and their immersive business solution is a joke.

    Have you seen what it takes to run SecondLife these days? The hardware requirements are going up every release, albeit unofficially, watch as each release makes your brand new top of the line video card seem out of date, with NO improvements to the graphics; which haven’t changed other than windlight, which was botched in the end. Now consider that everyone involved would have to upgrade their machines to participate, including telecommuters. Who’s going to pay? Oh yes, the company, if you try to force your workers to buy new computers with their own money to participate in meetings, expect major problems and potential discrimination lawsuits. Then for company machines, most companies go through OEMs like Dell, HP, etc. All of which overcharge for systems that are considered “gaming rigs.” So now you have to not only pay for this immersive experience (and pay Linden Labs money for sims) but you have to upgrade your hardware to make use of this. Then the other issue: Infrastructure. SL uses a LOT of bandwidth, hell, even on my cable connection, other people in the house get angry whenever I start to play SL as suddenly video sites like youtube start loading slower. Granted this is only initially, but there’s always a very heavy stream of data being sent to the client, then imagine 5-10 users on a LAN, not to mention the connection. The company I work for uses business grade DSL, cable, or T1 lines depending on the location. It’s enough for our needs, though we’d like to have T1 lines at all of our locations for growth, the cost of that isnt practical, and is seen as a waste that can be better utilized growing the profit-rearing departments. IT departments, unless the company specializes in technology, are seen as loss centers, so smart companies tend to limit IT, otherwise, all the earnings would go into beefing up an infrastructure that isnt necessary to do business.

    Suddenly, this immersive business platform cuts out many players and leaves the few with OC3/OC12 and up lines that can bankroll this kind of project. Chances are, they’ll get bored with it after a while and realize it’s just a more complicated way to communicate, and when there is a need for budget cuts, this will get shot down first.

    Why? Because the technology has existed already for a long time. Cisco offers solutions, and hell, anyone with a projector, webcam, and a small dedicated machine with the right software can do the same things for much less, with less complications and less resources.

    Linden Labs is going to go the way Be Inc. went. Except Be Inc. created a product that had value initially. BeOS was a good OS by design and had potential back in the mid to late 90′s, but after apple refused to use their code for the next generation Mac OS (technologies from NeXT were used instead to make OSX) They decided that web tv technology was the future.

    Linden labs is doing the same thing to their customer base: created a decent product that not many were successful in marketing, creates a good hype engine, then failed to improve on it, and saw bigger money by sucking up to corporations, all while abusing and ignoring their current customers.

    In the end, most companies will ignore linden labs, make a showing to show that they are tech-savvy, then write the expenses off for tax reasons and move on to use real, mature technologies. All while Linden Lab is left all alone with the ball, and millions in expenses. It’s inevitable, LL doesn’t even have a foot to shoot now. There’s a reason why this is now the Alphaville herald rather than the SLH.

    tl;dr version:

    Linden lab is not good at business and most business doesn’t need or want Linden Labs and their technology. It can be had for cheaper.

    Just sit back and play a fiddle while it blows up in their faces.

Leave a Reply