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  State of ‘Second Life’ (March 16, 2006)  
Posted 2006-03-16 by Tony Walsh
Linden Lab's founder and CEO Philip Rosedale chaired a Townhall Meeting in his company's virtual world Second Life (SL) today. Rosdale revealed that Linden Lab currently employs about 25 programmers and a core development team of 40 members. The company has gotten "about 6000 distinct 'tasks' done in the last 9 months or so, including thousands of bugfixes, and many things from the feature voting page. I think we are very fast and capable," said Rosedale. He told those gathered at the Town Hall meeting that his company is in fine financial health, is hiring employees for "almost every role" and is growing revenues at a rapid rate.

Rosedale said that he welcomes the arrival of competiting products, and while he's sure competition is nigh, Linden Lab doesn't see anything on the horizon. "The critical 'feature' that SL offers is total control for user to create anything," Rosedale said, adding that this feature is what sets his product apart from others. "Project Entropia has an economy but not user-created content. And There has some user-created content but no real ability to create interactive content. Croquet is very cool work, but earlier in the [development] process." Rosedale didn't mention IMVU, a growing avatar-based chat system that features user-created content, a user-generated virtual and real economy, and is seems to be advertising towards those interested in Second Life. Even if Rosedale doesn't think IMVU is a competitor, IMVU apparently does.

Out of the nearly 2,000 connected zones ("sims") that comprise the world of Second Life, 70% are classified as "mainland" sims, while 30% are "island" sims. Rosedale projected that the company expects the mainland will grow by about 1,000 sims by the end of the year, and said that the technical architecture of Second Life will provide for the planned European expansion of Linden Lab's service, which is currently operated from the United States. "Longer term there are going to be millions of people in here, so we will need to have many many entry points."

Elsewhere in Second Life today, an Alternative Town Hall was hosted by the controversial land owner Prokofy Neva in opposition to Linden Lab's official event. Neva believes that a recent change in Linden Lab's method of selling off its virtual land will cause the contiguous mainland sims to fragment and wither. Anshe Chung, Second Life's most successful land baron to the tune of $150k to $175k in annual income, intends to boycott Linden Lab's new land-sales policies. In an announcement on Second Life's official discussion forum, Chung said that those interested in building contiguous continents will be harmed by the policies. Chung's current investment in Second Life is massive (over 100 sims at $195 USD per month), and will, according to her announcement, be frozen as part of the boycott. It remains to be seen if Linden Lab's new policies will be swayed by its most prominent customers.
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