Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Linden Lab Family Tree Pruned Again

It's been a little over two months since I wrote "Fun With the Linden lab Family Tree" on the announcement of Robin Harper's departure from the executive ranks of Linden Lab.

Since then, John Zdanowski, aka Zee Linden, told us he was off to slay more dragons.

And today, Ginsu (Gene) Yoon announced his departure. It's not likely that many Residents even knew who Ginsu aka Ginsu Linden was or what he did at the Lab.

Gene's commentary about Second Life and the attendant Linden dollar as merely "products" during a Metanomics discussion likely garnered more Resident attention than anything else he'd done otherwise.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: And so I guess my first question is, do you think we can just import traditional macroeconomics into a discussion of Second Life's economy?
GENE YOON: I think it is great to have an understanding of a lot of general fields, including economics, when we're trying to understand how to shape what's going on in Second Life, because it really obviously is a product that takes into a lot more than just the technology. As a social product, it has a lot of social elements.
That said, I really--this is a thing I have, you know. I just think that the--you know, viewing what's going on in the virtual economy primarily through the lens of economics is a little bit of taking the metaphor too far. What we've got here in any particular element, say the Linden dollar, is a product. It's an element of what our offering is. And when we thought about how to put together the offering for the Linden dollar, it was more in the sense of a product team. We did retain economic consultants. But that was just one input. It was more trying to understand a particular product offering and not trying to understand the world of macroeconomics.
ROBERT BLOOMFIELD: Okay. So I guess we should think of Second Life as being a technology offering or web service just like any other. And monetary supply, then, would be like a feature of that.
GENE YOON: Right again. You know, the term monetary supply, it takes the metaphor of the virtual economy and assumes that that's essential way to understand what we're doing. And you have these thoughts about how to balance the money supply with monetary policy. I find that those are not the ways that are most useful for us as product managers to understand what's going on.

When we talk about trying to manage the pricing of a product, it's about--maybe it's more simply about microeconomics. It's about the supply and demand related to the attractiveness of a particular product offering we have. And because we allow this one particular product feature to be priced by market forces, it feels a little bit like--more like a macroeconomic policy. But it's really not. It's just, you know, market determinant of what the price is for your product.

Unlike Robin or even Zee's departure, Gene's exit may be but a whisper to the ears of the Second Life Residents, although he may see it differently:

I'm leaving Linden Lab, some of the finest people I've ever known and the most ambitious project I've ever seen. And the most passionate, intelligent, challenging, engaging Residents in any world. And that's good news; it's a graduation of sorts for the company and for me. Yet I'm sure that pundits who prefer their underinformed opinions to verifiable facts will try to find bad news.
Happy Trails, Gene.

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