|Foundation date||San Francisco, California, USA (1999)|
|Headquarters||San Francisco, California, USA|
|Key people||Philip Rosedale, founder
Rod Humble, former CEO
Ebbe Altberg, CEO
|Products||Virtual worlds, Electronic commerce, software development|
|Employees||245 (Q1 2010 350, -30% announcement)|
|Alexa rank||207,837 (March 2014[update])|
The company's head office is in San Francisco, with additional offices in Boston, Seattle, Virginia and Davis, California. Its offices in Mountain View, Brighton, Singapore and Amsterdam were closed in 2010. In addition, the company employs remote workers that communicate and collaborate on projects using Second Life technology.
The company, founded in 1999, employs numerous established high-tech veterans, including former executives from Electronic Arts, eBay, Disney, Adobe, and Apple. The company's founder and original CEO is Philip Rosedale, a former CTO of RealNetworks, one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in The World in 2007. In December 2010, the company announced a new CEO, Rod Humble, who controls day-to-day management and operations. Rosedale remains chairman of the board of Linden Lab, with a focus on product development and strategy.
In 2008, the company was awarded an Emmy for Second Life in the user-generated content and game modification category. The award was given at the 59th annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards. Philip Rosedale, chairman of Linden Lab, accepted the award.
Although Linden Lab's Second Life platform was not the first online virtual world entry, it has gained a large amount of attention due to its expanding user base and unique policy that allows participants to own the intellectual property rights to the inworld content that they create. The company's name comes from Linden Street, the street it was originally based on. The company's transition from scrappy upstart to success is detailed in the book The Making of Second Life, written by former Linden Lab employee Wagner James Au.
Although many people have assumed that the inspiration for Second Life originated from Rosedale's exposure to Neil Stephenson's novel Snow Crash, he has suggested that his vision of virtual worlds predates that book and that he conducted some early virtual world experiments during his college years at the University of California San Diego, where he studied physics.
Rosedale's strong coding skills eventually resulted in the creation of a video compression technology that would later be acquired by RealNetworks, where he was made CTO at the age of 27. While at RealNetworks, Rosedale's ambition to create a virtual world was resurrected and recharged by technological advances in computing and his attendance at the popular music and arts festival Burning Man.
With the help of a financial windfall that he reaped from his time at RealNetworks, Rosedale formed Linden Lab in 1999. His initial focus was on the development of hardware that would enable computer users to be fully immersed in a 360 degree virtual world experience. In its earliest form, the company struggled to produce a commercial version of "The Rig," which was realized in prototype form as a clunky steel contraption with several computer monitors that users could wear on their shoulders. That vision soon morphed into the software-based application Linden World, where computer users could participate in task-based games and socialization in a 3D online environment. That effort would eventually transform into the better-known, user-centered Second Life.
During a 2001 meeting with investors, Rosedale noticed that the participants were particularly responsive to the collaborative, creative potential of Second Life. As a result, the initial objective-driven, gaming focus of Second Life was shifted to a more user-created, community-driven experience.
As Second Life emerged into the mainstream, it has been the subject of numerous pop culture references. For example, it found prominent plot placement in 2007 episodes of "CSI: NY" and the U.S. version of The Office, and has been referenced in the comic strip Doonesbury.
In January 2013, Linden Lab purchased the game 'Blocksworld' for iPad - a shared virtual world built of blocks.
The company's CEO, Rod Humble, announced his departure on Facebook on 24 January 2014, stating that he would be leaving Linden Lab to pursue founding a new company that will "make art, entertainment and unusual things!".
Linden Lab has elicited both compliments and curiosity for its unconventional corporate culture, which is based on a non-hierarchical system where employees are unusually self-directed and transparent in their work. The company makes a strong effort to maintain transparency among its employees and to the general public.
Linden Lab utilizes another internal tool, known as the Distributor, that enables all employees to distribute "points" to projects that they deem to be worthy of development and resource support. Each point has a financial value that is based on each quarter's financial performance. As a result, key stakeholders in the projects with high point values receive a distributed monetary payoff at the end of the quarter for successfully completed projects. The Distributor was discontinued after Rosedale left the company.
In addition, each employee's quarterly performance review is published on a Wikipedia-like internal Web site for all other employees to see.
Employees of Linden Lab, who are easily identifiable inworld since their avatars bear the last name Linden, have been known to participate in several collaborative events with Second Life users. For example, the company holds an annual holiday "snowball fight" where users are encouraged to throw virtual snowballs at Linden Lab employees.
Acquisitions and restructuring
In May 2007, Linden Lab acquired Windward Mark Interactive, a small game development company of Waltham, Massachusetts. Windward Mark specialized in atmosphere and cloud simulation, and released their code as open source. Linden Lab currently uses the code under the name 'Windlight' to enhance atmospheric effects in Second Life.
On January 20, 2009, Linden Lab acquired XstreetSL and OnRez, two web-based marketplaces for Second Life virtual goods. Linden Lab subsequently closed OnRez and merged XstreetSL onto the secondlife.com website. XstreetSL's web forum and currency exchange service were closed. XstreetSL is formerly known as SLExchange. On September 10, 2008, the owner of SLExchange renamed the website under threat of Linden Lab enforcing a trademark on the letters "SL". XStreetSL was replaced in late 2010 with the new SecondLife Marketplace.
On June 9, 2010, Linden Lab announced a restructuring plan including a 30% reduction in workforce. The plan articulated a new renewed focus on development of browser-based 3D viewer for the Second Life Virtual World. The CEO Mark Kingdon, aka "M Linden" stepped down at this time, and the founding CEO Philip Rosedale stepped back up.
In 2006, Pennsylvania lawyer Marc Bragg (“Marc Woebegone” in Second Life) brought a lawsuit against Second Life developer Linden Lab when his account was disabled by Second Life administrators. The case was eventually settled out of court.
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