Rodvik at SLCC 2011 – The gist

LL CEO Rod Humble

Rod Humble gave a polished, if short-term and purely tactical, overview of Second Life for listeners at SLCC 2011.

His talk came just after lunch in Oakland, and he couldn’t resist making a few light-hearted comments, as he opened the talk by commenting on what people told him they wanted to hear.

“People were…before I was doing the talk, were like, ‘we want big news, give us big news!’ I, ah, don’t have any big news….wait a minute…. We’re shutting everything down! Thank you for all of your service, it’s been great!”

This earned him warm laughter and applause and set the tone for a relaxed 40 minutes, during which he talked about Second Life, Linden Lab and took questions.  Here are the highlights.

  • One of the reasons he was attracted to Second Life is the fact that it is still growing, something which sets it aside from other massive multi-player games. As examples of this growth he cited:
    • An average of 16,000 new users are still signing-up per day
    • There is an increase of total monthly uniques
    • User retention appears to be increasing
  • Second Life has longevity because it is a unique creative platform on both the physical level and the social level; that it engenders a sense of ownership whether you are physically creating something in-world or whether you are creating and cultivating friendships and engaging in social interaction
  • He touched on the identity element and the importance of being able to have the freedom to define our own virtual identity, and to put barriers between the different identities we use in much the same way as we create different personas in real life to deal with different aspects of our lives. He sees SL as being very unique in this when compared to other on-line social mediums (which he defined as “intrusive”) and views it as the correct (“traditional”) stance
  • Clearly stated that “customer privacy will always come first.”
  • Hinted that Linden Lab is diversifying, “You are going to see Linden Lab working on other products as well as Second Life,” (my emphasis). He suggested that the new productions would be related to “shared creative spaces” (a term he is fond of using in relation to Second Life itself), which he believes has a potentially large audience
  • Defined his personal ‘first year’ goal at LL as being to be able to give every family member within Linden Lab a Second Life account, for them to be able to send the account to any “intelligent or above average intelligence computer user” for them to be able to use it to get into Second Life, use it and be grateful, and this has effectively drawn a lot of what has been going on regarding the sign-up process, the initial experience for new users and changes to the Viewer (Basic mode, etc.), and issues such as dealing with lag
  • He touched on the recent cycle of rapid development and roll-out of features, etc., which has been followed by almost immediate nips, tucks, updates and revisions, stating that if a company tries to put something big out to the online community, it is going to break, either “spectacularly” or “elegantly”, but it will break. So he prefers to get small features developed and implemented and then “test, polish, test, polish”
  • The rest of this year will be focused on the “polish”, and he again specifically mentioned customer service (such as quality of service), lag and “bugginess”
  • He indicated that one initiative will be aimed towards griefers and that he hopes to make “life unpleasant for griefers”, although no specifics were given
  • A Linden-made, Linden-curated area in-world will go live in the next couple of months. the aim of this area is to both enable Linden Lab to learn how to make tools aimed at the users – he cited an example of being able to go to a role-play area and not having to worry about HUDs – you just press a permission button and, “everything happens”
  • Premium Accounts will be improved, with new features specifically aimed at adding value “at no extra cost to you.”
  • Towards the end of the year / 2012, LL will have a marketing campaign “of significant investment” to drive traffic into Second Life and hopefully towards SL merchants

This brief presentation was followed by almost 30 minutes of Q&A which included the following:

  • He refused to comment on a number of questions relating to pricing, although did indicate that there would be “no radical” change to current pricing mechanisms in place
  • There will be moves from LL to further protect content creator’s IP rights, although he declined to be drawn on specifics. He also linked this with the question of griefing
  • He addressed hardware issues in two ways:
    • Increasing the avatar count per sim
    • The “threat” of tablets and mobile devices – and he stated that LL will be addressing tablets with Second Life and “at least one new product” as well as doing, “some mobile stuff as well”, as the increasing levels of sales of tablet and mobile devices means that LL “needs to be there some way – and we will”
  • Indicated that SL has a new demographic among users: people in their 20s who are spending less time in-world, but more time socialising via message boards, Twitter, their SL profile feeds, etc. Also that more time is being spent socialising about activities as well as doing the activities, and he indicated that LL will be looking to enhance this
  • He doesn’t see it as LL’s place to define where SL goes in terms of technology development / integration in terms of “making” it a “killer app”, but rather sees LL’s role as taking its lead from its users and customers
  • Acknowledged that Viewer 2 has issues around the UI, etc., and while hoping people recognise efforts that have been made to improve it this year, further work is required BUT at the same time, too much new technology is embedded in the Viewer to “just give up on it” Also indicated that “at some point” he would like to see:
    • Removal of the Sidebar from the Viewer
    • In-world communications channels for merchants
    • New creativity tools for in-world creation
    • HOWEVER – emphasis for the present will remain on fixing broader issues
  • Indicated (again) that LL’s “top line” is over $75 million, and that they generate cash every month and are “very profitable”
  • SL is one of the most popular games in Russia and the most popular on-line game in Thailand – both as a result of localisation efforts!


20 thoughts on “Rodvik at SLCC 2011 – The gist

  1. i think it would be a good idea for you to leave my post. i have screenshots that you are removing them.


  2. You may think it’s a simple one-word error, but the difference between saying that “SL has $75 million annual income” and “SL has $75 million annual revenue” is a HUGE one. That’s not as big a mistake as trying to pretend the mistake was never made by deleting the comment.


    1. No, you assume I cannot tell the difference between “income” and “revenue” and are determined to try and make a major issue of this rather than accepting I simply made an error in wording as a result of working through the recording at gone 2:00am my time.

      Your attitude in this is on a par with your idiotic attempt to denigrate me over your perception that I am unable to spell “licence” simply because, being English, I use the International English spelling of the word, rather than the US spelling.


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