Linden Lab

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Coordinates: 37°48′00.96″N 122°24′05.65″W / 37.8002667°N 122.4015694°W / 37.8002667; -122.4015694

Linden Research, Inc.
Linden Lab
Founded1999; 23 years ago (1999)
FounderPhilip Rosedale
United States
Number of employees

Linden Research, Inc., doing business as Linden Lab, was an American technology company that is best known as the creator of Second Life.

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 as Linden Research, 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.[2]

The company name "Linden" originates from the street name where the company premises were initially based, at 333 Linden Street in San Francisco. The hexagonal Linden Lab logo is influenced by a lime tree, otherwise known as a Linden or Tilia tree.[citation needed]

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.[3] Philip Rosedale, chairman of Linden Lab, accepted the award.

Although Linden Lab's Second Life platform was not the first online virtual world, 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 in-world content they create. The company's transition from scrappy upstart to success is detailed in the book The Making of Second Life written by former 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.[4]

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 reality 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.[5] 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.[6]

In October 2010, Rosedale announced he was leaving his position as CEO.

In September 2012, Linden Lab announced two new products: Creatorverse (for iPad) and Patterns (for desktops).[7]

In January 2013, Linden Lab purchased the game Blocksworld for iPad, a shared virtual world built of blocks.[8]

Rod Humble, appointed CEO in December 2010, 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!".

In February 2014, Linden Lab announced that its new CEO was Ebbe Altberg, former COO of BranchOut.[9]

In June 2014, Linden Lab confirmed that they plan to build a new virtual world.[10]

As of August 2015, Linden Lab are in beta tests of Sansar.

We want to lower the barrier of entry for VR experience creation ... Project Sansar will do for virtual experiences what WordPress has done for the Web ...

— Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, [11]

Ebbe Altberg, the CEO of Linden Lab since 2014, died in June 2021 after battling a long illness.[12]

Corporate culture[edit]

Linden Lab utilized another internal tool, the Distributor, that enabled 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 received a distributed monetary payoff at the end of the quarter for successfully completed projects. The Distributor was discontinued after Rosedale left the company.[13]

In addition, each employee's quarterly performance review is published on a Wikipedia-like internal website that all other employees may see.[14]

Employees of Linden Lab, who are easily identifiable in-world by their avatars' 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[edit]

In May 2007, Linden Lab acquired Windward Mark Interactive, a small game development company based in Waltham, Massachusetts. Windward Mark specialized in atmosphere and cloud simulation, releasing their code as open-source. Linden Lab currently uses the code under the name "Windlight" to enhance atmospheric effects in Second Life.[15]

On January 20, 2009, Linden Lab acquired XstreetSL (formerly known as SLExchange) and OnRez, two web-based marketplaces for Second Life virtual goods.[16] It subsequently closed OnRez and merged XstreetSL with the website, closing its currency exchange service and web forum. 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.[17]

On January 30, 2010, Linden Lab acquired the avatar profile service Avatars United and its creator, Enemy Unknown AB.[18]

On June 9, 2010, Linden Lab announced a restructuring plan including a 30% reduction in workforce.[1] The plan articulated a new renewed focus on development of browser-based 3D viewer for the Second Life Virtual World. CEO Mark Kingdon, aka "M Linden", stepped down and was replaced by founding CEO Philip Rosedale.

On January 24 2013, Linden Lab acquried the Sandbox Game Blocksworld from Boldai AB. They bought Blocksworld with the aim to bring it to a global market.[19]

In July 2013, Linden Lab acquired digital distribution service Desura.[20]

On November 5, 2014, Linden Lab sold Desura to Bad Juju Games.[21]

On March 24, 2020, Linden Lab's Sansar was acquired by Wookey Project Corp.[22][23]

On July 9, 2020, Linden Lab announced "[...][that] it signed an agreement to be acquired by an investment group led by Randy Waterfield and Brad Oberwager. Closing of the acquisition is subject to regulatory approval by financial regulators in the U.S. related to Tilia Inc.’s status as a licensed money transmitter as well as other customary closing conditions. Upon closing, Mr. Waterfield and Mr. Oberwager will join the Board of Directors of Linden Research, Inc.[24][25][26]"


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 administrators. The case was eventually settled out of court.[27][28]

List of products[edit]


  1. ^ a b Linden Lab (June 9, 2010). "Linden Lab Restructures to Generate Efficiencies and Support Investment in New Platforms". PRNewswire. Retrieved 2010-06-13.
  2. ^ Vega, Suzanne (May 14, 2007). "The Time 100: Philip Rosedale". Time Magazine. Archived from the original on May 5, 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-02.
  3. ^ BusinessWire (January 8, 2008). "Winners of 59th Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards Announced by National Television Academy at Consumer Electronics Show". Archived from the original on January 12, 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-02.
  4. ^ Dubner, Stephen (December 13, 2007). "Philip Rosedale Answers Your Questions". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-06.
  5. ^ Au, Wagner James. The Making of Second Life, pg. 19. New York: Collins. ISBN 978-0-06-135320-8.
  6. ^ YouTube (November 22, 2006). "The Origin of Second Life and its Relation to Real Life". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-12. Retrieved 2008-03-06.
  7. ^ Linden Lab (September 18, 2012). "Creatorverse and Patterns". Linden Lab. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
  8. ^ Linden Lab (January 24, 2013). "Linden Lab acquires Blocksworld". Linden Lab. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  9. ^ Linden Lab (February 5, 2014). "Ebbe Altberg Joins Linden Lab as CEO". Linden Lab. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  10. ^ "BREAKING: Linden Lab Confirms It's Building New Virtual World "Far Beyond What is Possible with Second Life"". New World Notes. June 20, 2014. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  11. ^ "Linden Lab: Build Worlds with Us". Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  12. ^ New World Notes (June 4, 2021). "Ebbe Altberg, Ambitious & Inspiring CEO of Linden Lab, Dies After Long Bout With Illness". Retrieved June 6, 2021.
  13. ^ Rachel Emma Silverman (April 3, 2012). "My Colleague, My Paymaster". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
  14. ^ WorldBlu (February 19, 2008). "Lessons Learned and Best Practices from the WorldBlu Council Meeting in SF". WorldBlu. Archived from the original on March 6, 2012. Retrieved 2008-03-06.
  15. ^ "Second Life gets a Bay State boost". The Boston Globe. May 21, 2007.
  16. ^ Linden Lab (January 20, 2009). "Linden Lab Goes Shopping, Buys Virtual Goods Marketplaces to Integrate Web Shopping with Second Life" (Press release). Linden Lab. Archived from the original on December 28, 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-13.
  17. ^ Apotheus Silverman (September 10, 2008). "SL Exchange to become Xstreet SL". Archived from the original on February 19, 2015. Retrieved 2010-06-13.
  18. ^ Tateru Nino (January 30, 2010). "Linden Lab acquires Avatars United, Enemy Unknown AB". Massively. Retrieved 2010-06-13.
  19. ^ "| Linden Lab".
  20. ^ "Second Life maker Linden Lab acquires Desura". Destructoid. July 10, 2013.
  21. ^ "Bad Juju Games Acquires Desura from Linden Lab" (Press release). November 5, 2014. Archived from the original on November 5, 2014. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  22. ^ "Wookey Project Corp. Acquires Sansar" (Press release). March 24, 2020. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  23. ^ Galileo (June 4, 2020). "It's a new day and a new chapter for Sansar. Join us". Sansar. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  24. ^ "Linden Research, Inc. To Be Acquired" (Press release). July 9, 2020. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  25. ^ Au, Wagner James (July 9, 2020). "Linden Lab Acquired By Investors After Months Of Rumors, Layoffs & Sansar's Sale; Second Life To Still Expand, Official Announcement Promises". New World Notes. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  26. ^ Pey, Inara (July 9, 2020). "Linden Lab Announces It Is To Be Acquired". Living In A Modem World. Retrieved July 10, 2020.
  27. ^ Reuters, Adam (2007-10-04). "Linden Lab settles Bragg lawsuit". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2007-10-08. Retrieved 2012-09-25.
  28. ^ "Virtual Land Lawsuit Reveals Dark Side of 'Second Life' Game" (archive). 9 October 2006. Archived from the original on January 13, 2009.

External links[edit]