Today the rumor is Mark Kingdon, M. Linden, is out and Philip Rosedale, SL’s founder, is back. New World Notes is chasing the facts of the rumor. See: Breaking News: Sources Say Linden Lab Executive Changes Involving Mark Kingdon and Philip Rosedale Coming Soon
My thinking and writing in Linden Lab Layoffs, Are the Linden Lab Layoffs a Good Sign?, Second Life Layoffs Update, and Layoffs – Update? More Info is mostly based on top management remaining the same. The speculation in Second Life Leaks – Meshes (Update) is also predicated on that premise.
Kingdon is a management type and there is no doubt he understands business in general and what is needed. How to implement that knowledge in SL is a whole other thing. The thinking in Leaping the Chasm is about what parts of good business thinking Kingdon might be implementing next and why.
I do think anyone coming from another business environment to SL is going to have problems. In the case of SL it is somewhat like bringing in a submarine captain to run a 747. There are many things that are very similar, but there are also many things one has to learn. Hurricanes have much more effect on an airplane. I see Kingdon’s changes in LL direction as evidence of his learning.
Philip Rosedale is the creative type. Whether he has learned to manage a business and keep it profitable is debatable. Statistically creative types and entrepreneurs are replaced as startup companies grow. Small business management (1-50 employees) and larger business’ management are different. Skill sets needed change at about 50, 100, 500 and so one. Other number sequences are associated with when people management problems change. But, that style has to change with company size is generally agreed on. (Reference)
Apple Computer went through the dance of an entrepreneurial creator turning over management to a stiff collar bean-counting management type. Apple is doing well but the dance has taken years. Whether Philip has matured in similar ways to Steve Jobs and learned from past mistakes is open to debate and speculation. I have no clue. It looks to me that in the case of Apple the bean-counter types just could not change direction and take creative risks or admit mistakes.
Whether Kingdon was in a learning process, advancing, learning, and adapting good business practice to SL or a stiff-bean-counter is something we may never know.
The question for me now becomes whether Philip can and is willing to set down and do the work needed to move SL into the mainstream. Entrepreneurial and creative types often have a weak connection to the realities of business.
Steve Jobs has years away from Apple and time to learn. I don’t know that Philip Rosedale has had time to learn much or the motivation to give up years of experience with and thinking about SL. Whether he can get SL to the next level of business growth is a big question. But… maybe we should ask another question… Can Philip make SL more fun and newbie friendly? I think this later question is more likely to have a positive answer.
Tateru Nino at Massively in an article posted Sunday, A crisis of confidence, Tateru opinions about user confidence in a virtual world’s management. This change certainly affects the confidence level. While I see the changes as evidence of management’s learning many others see it as a mark of incompetence. I suspect those opinions are more projection than knowledge… but that makes no difference to the effect a loss of confidence will have.
I think the growth in OpenSim shows some measure of the effect a loss of confidence may be having. The move to OpenSim has been going on for some time and there is a cost factor involved too. So, we can’t say it is all a confidence issue.
Over the next couple of months a sharp upturn in OpenSim sigh ups and new regions may be an indicator of a loss of confidence. However, OSGrid, the largest OpenSim grid operator, has just started pruning regions from their region list. So, we will see a drop in OSGrid regions online that may hide any shift caused by the layoffs and management changes.
While my optimism at having Kingdon at the helm may be misplaced, I am not as optimistic with Rosedale taking the helm. I’ll give it a wait and see and Philip Rosedale the benefit of the doubt.
I’m just hoping to see Second Life Meshes soon.
Linden Lab and New World Notes are confirming the change over to Philip Rosedale. Linden Lab Blog