In an article written by Sarah Lacy for her online magazine Pandodaily, the writer came across Philip Rosedale, the founder of Linden Lab and Second Life. Rosedale talked about what the writer called, "the all too familiar hero-villian press cycle," about how national publications ignore companies in Silicon Valley until it's certain to be big, "then they make the founders into two-dimensional cover boy 'overnight' successes. … And then when it starts to fall apart, they either become evil or stupid. Either way, they're mocked, written off, and forgotten about."
It's never that simple for a startup, Lacy wrote, and certainly not for Second Life, which was praised as the next big thing, and then dismissed and mostly forgotten. It's audience had stopped growing, and "many consider anything that's not growth" or going pubic or sold, as "death."
Rosedale argued that contrary to what the national media might believe, Second Life didn't fail, it was a success. It currently has about a million active users, almost the same number it had at it's peak. when IBM and other companies were setting up places there. That the number never fell should still be considered a success "in a world were fads quickly come and go, especially with 700 million a year in virtual goods traded every year.
So why didn't the numbers grow, even with virtual worlds a success in other countries? Either Americans have a failure of imagination, "or he was way too early." Rosedale felt most people desire what they know, and if they can't get it can escape through other means such as TV, getting as Lacy put it "the culture that's already built for them, but without the responsibility to build it themselves."
As for being too early, Rosedale was proud to think that might be the case, "We were early to an idea that most people thought would eventually happen … What I'm most proud of is that we found a way to make that into a profitable company years earlier than it should have emerged, through our hard work."
In an economy all about continuous growth, Second Life might seem easy to ignore. But after ten years, it's still going and self-sustaining. Lacy commented if her company built that, "I'd still be damn proud of my team."
Read Lacy's article in full Here.
Special thanks to Solar Hydro
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