Friday, June 25, 2010

Philip Needs a Number One if He Wants a Second Life

SAN FRANCISCOJune 24 /PRNewswire/ -- Linden Lab®, creator of 3D virtual world Second Life®, announced today that company founder Philip Rosedale has been named interim CEO, and CFO Bob Komin has assumed the additional role of COO.  Linden Lab also announced that Mark Kingdon is stepping down as CEO.  
I've been sort of staring into the swirl of bits the last day or so about the announcement of Philip Rosedale as interim CEO and the only thing that's stuck squarely in my mind is this:
Captain Philip, please get a Number One.
Make no mistake, I respect and admire Philip. He's brimming with idealism and passion, he's technically savvy, he's charismatic and flamboyant without the sequens. He's the kind of person that you can talk to for hours, wandering in and out of short and long alley ways of many types, but eventually you will end up back at the heart of his vision of how things could be. 

In short, Philip brings the magic of WHY back for Second Life in a big way. 

After the tumultuous release of Viewer 2.0 including the decimation of Search and the Events system and a score of "killer app" safaris that would break the back of Marlin Perkins, the Second Life Resident base needs a dose of that good old fashion Rosedale alchemy.

But drugs wear off, and unless you want to live out your days in the hazy shade of Rosedale's summer, someone has to start doing the hard work. Someone has to carry out that grand vision - someone has to "make it so" - and that takes a different kind of person than Philip.

We already know this; we lived through the first regime and frankly the most fundamental flaws within the world as we know it are still with us.  Let's review a few of my personal favorites:
  • Groups - still limited to 25 in total and undoubtedly the most archaic group system on the web.
  • Event System - barely qualifies as a system, barely meets even the most basic needs of event planners, hosts, performers or attendees.
  • Search - this deserves an entire post but I haven't the patience. 
  • Any and all means of mass communication including chat, IM and voice - see above.
The truth is, Mark Kingdon inherited these problems - he and his new red shirts didn't fix them but he certainly didn't create them.

What the world needs now

Maybe what we need now is a Joe Linden 2.0. Joe Miller aka Joe Linden is a remarkable individual, capable, communicative and thoughtful. I watched him handle the Third Party Viewer explosion with grace and competence. He took what was seemingly an unraveling situation and righted it admirably.

But for the sake of stability and all things technical, let's hope Joe stays in his current role but I'd double down for a Number One that is zen-like mix of: a sprinkle of Philip, a heaping tablespoon of Robin Harper, a handful of Tom Kelley and a meaningful dash Joe Linden.

Management is doing things right, Leadership is doing the right things

It could be that those few key services are beyond repair given the existing architecture of Second Life. If that's the case, then the phrase "interim CEO" takes on an entirely new meaning. If not, then Philip is going to have to find his Tonto, pronto.

Despite what you think of Mark Kingdon, he accomplished a large amount of work in a short period of time. It may have been the wrong things, but that's sort of the nature of where we are. The reality is, he was able to execute on more than one thing at a time. And I hope when Philip says he plans to "do a lot less a lot better" he means "do the right things, and get them done".

Please get a Number One, Philip. (and please stop talking about live music until you do something)

Mark, thanks for trying.

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