Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Rez Day, Philip Rosedale

On the anniversary of his rez day and with some irony, on Pi Day, Second Life visionary and founder Philip Rosedale steps aside from the CEO position at Linden Lab. Philip will assume the chairman of the board position for the privately held company, as Mitch Kapor steps down to take a member role. Reuters carried the story exclusively, although Philip's remarks showed up later in the day on the Second Life blog.
I feel that the most important contributions I have made and will continue to make to Second Life are related to building both the product and the company through my direct contributions to vision, strategy, and design. As we grow, the role of our CEO will increasingly be to hire and grow the right team - to lead and help the company scale - to thousands of people and tens of millions of users of Second Life. I believe that we can hire a fantastic person in that role, and also give me the ability to totally focus myself on the job that I do well. I bet this will be the most interesting job opening in the technology world.
Despite whatever bad press Second Life received over the past year or two, it was astonishing that it never seemed directed at Philip. He has carried himself with poise through what must have been desperately challenging circumstances. I attribute much of that to his unflappable energy and passion. I've known few people with the raw energy and sheer conviction that Philip possesses. On the two occasions I had to talk with him personally, I left feeling inspired, charged, challenged, engaged and glad that he was who he was, where he was.

Just as few theoretical physicists can find their way around a laboratory, so few visionaries can lead an organization through critical operational transitions. Whether Philip is CEO material or not, is really not the question. The important question is could he separate himself from his own ideals long enough to balance short term and long terms objectives in the face of this new era for Second Life? Probably not.

The Second Life community has been abuzz since the announcement, various social networks lit up with a general sense of surprise, remorse and some worry. In summary a collective "Okay, we understand, but .. just damn" rattled across the waves. Even those that regularly spew venom at the platform still found a fondness for Philip.

To be sure, he has left very large prim shoes to be filled, a spirited team with a unique and pronounced culture and finally, one very large and equally passionate crowd of Residents, noses pressed against the gate, waiting for the next leader.

I'm hoping the reins of the chairmanship are not slack and the new sheriff rides a white horse.
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