Linden Lab staff reductions: the picture painted

As she is wont to do, Tateru Nino has come up with another great story, albeit a sad one for those involved. Linden Lab have laid off a significant number of staff. Putting aside the obvious human impact of decisions like these, it’s certainly not a great look for a company already struggling under the stereotype of being a passed fad in some sections of the mainstream media.

What does it mean? As Tateru says in her piece – it’s not a sign of Linden Lab’s demise, but it’s definitely a sign of a company about to do one or both of two things: batten down the hatches for a lean time or create a leaner beast that becomes attractive for sale or acquisition. Either way, Linden Lab continue to have some significant challenges. There’s not likely to be direct admissions on causes for the latest round of staff losses, but factors such as OpenSim uptake, static user levels and less media coverage all have to be biting.

As usual, expatriate Aussie and virtual worlds observer, Skribe Forti, sums it up nicely:

One potential issue that LL and SL may have is that in restructuring the world to move it away from the ‘Wild West’ – brothel and casino on every corner – to a ‘Your mother would approve’ business environment they may have created a solution to a problem that only a few have and thereby potentially killed the golden goose. Too early to tell however.

There’s certainly a stark picture being painted – I’m still pretty confident that picture isn’t done and that there’s plenty of colours still to be added. It’s just determining who the painters will be in the months to come that is difficult.

Comments

  1. As you know, I've been trying to get people into SL as often as possible, and it's not easy. When I try to explain it, the images formed in peoples minds never clicks properly and they assume it's some sort of video game, or that as far as social media goes, it's not practical. I have always had a problem with newbie islands… it's here that people get their first impression and it's nearly always a bad one for various reasons I'm sure you're familiar with. if only they could make contact with someone already in world, like myself, as they're signing up, and I could bring them directly to an island such as ABC which most people seem to like. I had a request from a riend on twitter who said that she'd appeared on the welcome island and couldn't seem to leave, she abandoned secondlife for over a year until she heard via twitter that I was happy to teleport people from newbie island and take them to ABC. She tried that and seems to be quite happy with secondlife last time we spoke.

  2. Lowell Cremorne says:

    Yep it's a good point Wolfie – I know LL have been working on the new user experience but it remains a big issue…

  3. Lee Flier says:

    Do people think that LL is immune to the recent economic downturn? I'm sure there are a lot of folks who've had to tighten their belts and have ditched their SL land. So of course this would affect LL's revenues. It may be as simple as that.

    It's certainly true that the new user experience sucks and a lot of people give up after their first visit. But that's been the case all along.

  4. I am still eating my popcorns 😛

  5. I'm not one to frown on adult content in SL, in its place (in Zindra and indoors in mature sims).

    That said, my monthly road-trip along SL's mainland roads revealed more than a small share of clubs with sex toys in plain view. I'm not one to AR these folks, but let's get real. SL's reputation is its biggest marketing problem, right after the product's name.

    It was brave of Tateru to run this story, one that other well known SL bloggers seem to have ignored.

    I'm betting that Mark Kingdon is trimming the staff before selling the firm. Who might buy it and rebrand it with a new name? Google? Microsoft? Apple?

  6. Lee, the Lab did make an heroic effort to revamp the first hour experience. It looks good…in fact, it might be the best OI experience ever.

    But.

    The UI is still gnarly. If it were as easy to navigate as something like Unity, you'd be talking.

    But that's not likely out of this company.

  7. I think Wolfie has hit the nail on the head, but it's more than just first impressions. The issue is that SL appeals to a very small section of the online population. That may be a million or so actives but in a very competitive marketplace that doesn't mean a lot.

    Also, unfortunately, in re-positioning itself away from the Wild West – brothel and casino on every corner – to a business friendly 'Your mother would approve' virtual environment, LL may have killed the golden goose by eliminating the principal competitive advantage it had apart from being one of the first VEs. That being the laissez faire approach.

    LL may be faced with an two-fold issue: 1. the loss of revenue from its traditional user base, who are leaving for alternate platforms; 2. the slow uptake by business, due to the slow economy or because SL provides a solution to a problem that most businesses do not have.

    Either way, I expect this announcement and the subsequent comments by the CEO will send shivers through both the business community and users alike. I feel it likely that we'll see a substantial fall in SL investment for the foreseeable future.

  8. “one that other well known SL bloggers seem to have ignored.” Not hardly. Every blogger in SL has been talking about this ad nauseum.

  9. TateruNino says:

    The point being that I wrote the story several days before anyone else, Wiz 🙂 I didn't report on them after they happened, I wrote about them *before* they happened.

    At which point, a lot of folks told me I was basically crazy and stupid and that there was no way there would be layoffs.

    Three days later, most of the same people were say that I must have had a source inside the Lab.

    Wrong on both counts.

    (Oh, due to the fact that The Metaverse Journal is on the West side of the International Dateline, this article we're commenting on was written the day before Linden Lab announced the layoffs themselves)

  10. dual sim phones says:

    but factors such as OpenSim uptake, static user levels and less media coverage all have to be biting.

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  1. […] Lab have now formalised the announcement on staff cuts – not that there’s any detail and plenty of corporate-speak. The whole claim that […]

  2. […] 1. Was Kingdon aware he was soon to depart when overseeing the recent layoffs? […]

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