Update: Peter Grey has confirmed with me that Versu and Creatorverse will be removed from the App Store (and the other places Creatorverse had been available) and their websites taken down in the immediate future. The dio website will remain until the end of February, with a message announcing its forthcoming closure.
Linden Lab has just confirmed that three of its products, Creatorverse. dio and Versu have been axed.
After careful consideration, Linden Lab has decided to cease development and support for dio, Versu, and Creatorverse. We’re grateful for those who took the time to experiment with these products in their early days, but ultimately we have determined that due to a number of factors, we and our customers will be best served by focusing our efforts on continuing to provide exceptional service and compelling new experiences for the users of our other products.
Update, February 19th. Linden Lab has confirmed Creatorverse, dio and Versu have all been removed from their product portfolio with immediate effect.
When meeting with members of the SL community on Tuesday February 18th, 2014, Ebbe Altberg (Ebbe Linden in SL), Linden Lab’s new CEO indicated that an announcement should be forthcoming about the “simplification” of the Labs product portfolio.
Whether this means the Lab will be divesting itself of one or more recent acquisitions or cutting items from its portfolio – or whether it means the side of the company managing those aspects of its business is being reorganised, is unclear. In indicating the forthcoming announcement Mr. Altberg said:
I’ve already helped support some decisions of simplifying our portfolio a little bit, and there will be more news on that later this week. They won’t have significant ramifications for us with regards to resources and stuff like that, so it’s more lightening the load on our minds more so than the work we do every day, but it’ll be a little bit simplified.
I’ve very interested in Blocksworld, because it’s very aligned with what we do in Second Life, which is empowering users to create things, to share things, and hopefully over time to monetize their creations.So that one is clear to me.
Some of the other products, I’m sort-of still getting up to speed on, I haven’t even necessarily had product reviews or anything like that on those. but there will be a little bit of … a simplification of our portfolio later this week.”
It’ll be interesting to see what is announced. In the meantime, more of Mr Altberg’s comments and views given at the meeting with users can be found by following the links at the top of this piece or below.
On Tuesday February 18th, 2014, Linden Lab’s new CEO said an informal “hello” to Second life users through the SL blog.
His message comes just over a week after he officially started working at Battery Street, and it’s something of a personal piece, explaining why he decided to take-up the challenge of helming the Lab (and doubtless much to the delight of LL board member and close personal friend, Jed Smith, who has apparently been trying to get Ebbe to work with him for quite a while…). The post drew immediate comments in the forums … to which Ebbe also replied.
At the same time the blog post came out, Ebbe sat down with a small group of us in an informal meet and greet arranged by the Lab’s Director of Communications, Peter Grey, to talk about his appointment, Second Life, Linden Lab and its products, and other things joining Ebbe and Peter in a friendly session which lasted about an hour at the Lab’s PR island were myself, Saffia Widdershins, Jo Yardley, Mal Burns, Draxtor Despres and Daniel Voyager.
Some of the highlights of the chat were:
Ebbe has had a long-term awareness of both Linden Lab and Second Life. He is close friends with board member Jed Smith and also friends with Philip Rosedale. his knowledge is not in-depth, but it is certainly not an unknown to him
He is deeply passionate about user-generated content and about empowering people’s creativity
His son, Aleks, actually joined SL while still too young and got kicked from the platform – twice! – prior to becoming one of the founding members of the old SL Teen Grid
He is aware that the new user experience needs to be addressed, as does user retention levels and is already starting a preliminary look into the history of these issues
He’s already providing guidance on simplifying the Lab’s portfolio of products, and news is due on that later in the week
He’s conscious of the fact that the Lab no longer carries the message about Second Life where the media and the world at large are concerned
He is enthusiastic about Oculus Rift, Leap Motion an emerging VR and AR technologies and the potential for Linden Lab to help shape how they are used and gain acceptance.
While I had sound issues, I recorded proceedings, and have permission to reproduce Ebbe’s comments in this article. For those who want to know more, please do also listen to this Friday’s (February 21st) The Drax Files Radio Hour, where there will be more analysis of the conversation. Please note that what follows is not presented in the order in which things were discussed. Instead, I’ve ordered things to try to give something of a progressive flow to the comments made in response to questions and observations.
A Little Introduction
“Hi, everybody! I’m Ebbe and I’m extremely excited to be here. I’ve already interacted with a few of you a little bit, or at least read or heard or watched your amazing videos or cities or whatever, and I’ve only been here for a week, and I’ve spent pretty much of the whole first week doing almost nothing but just talking and meeting with employees. and so that’s been pretty much wall-to-wall, so I’ve explicitly avoided diving into Second Life … but I’ve managed to get just the basics going; signed my paperwork and managed to log-in find parking and all these little things, just to get comfortable and getting my office up-and-running, my computers up-and-running.
“So it’s been just fundamentals, no extreme things. I’m obviously starting to have some meaningful conversations with team players and customers alike about top issues, top concerns, top opportunities; things to do more, things to do less and stuff like that. Just a few decisions have been made so far; most of it has been just conversations with team members and colleagues. So with that … I’m really excited to get to talk with you in person right here.”
On Deciding to Join the Lab
“I’ve known Linden since [its] early beginnings. Jed Smith, who is on the board, is a good friend of mine … I was an early beta user and as Drax said, my son was very involved early on, and I thought it was a fantastic experience for him, the ability to create, collaborate and also to earn. At a young age, he became sort-of a producer working with engineers and designers and clients and partners in creating solutions for people.
“So I’ve always known about it, then I’ve really been too busy in my work life to really participate on an ongoing basis. but when Jed came to me and said he wanted me to do this – and he’s been trying to get me for a number of companies, but this was the first time he succeeded – it was not a difficult decision for me at all with regards to what Second Life is or what Linden Lab is or what we can do because those things are just instantly fascinating to me. I love products that empower people to do things that otherwise would not be possible. I prefer these kinds of products. Call them products that are enabled user-generated opportunities or platforms that can really scale and empower people to succeed as opposed to doing products that are just selling widgets to people.
“So I was instantly passionate about the subject matter, or the materials as they call …a product that enables this tremendous creativity but using technology to do it on a massive scale, and the communication and collaboration elements are also very near and dear to me. So the materials to work with, if you’re someone like me in software product development and digital product development, are just fantastic.
“The only thing that took a little while to overcome was Jed and I are close friends and we had to look each other in the eye for a few days and make sure we could this together, him being on the board and me being CEO, and not have that be damaging to our personal relationship. But after having talked to our wives and families, we completely agreed that we could do it and do it very successfully.
“So that’s kind-of a little bit about why I took this on … I’ve worked on similar things for quite some time at Ingenio, the start-up I joined having left Microsoft, where we basically worked on apps, or I worked on apps – although very successful apps, I think all of us have used those at some point – at Ingenio it was really a marketplace for people to sell what they know. We thought of it as the E-bay of what’s in the top of your mind as opposed to the top of your attic. And we empowered a lot of people to run some very successful businesses on top of the platform we created by just taking ‘phone calls and helping people. and the three days later we would direct deposit their earnings they’d made from helping their customers.
“And at Yahoo!, even, there were a lot of UGC [user-generated content] products I worked on; I was responsible for Yahoo! answers for a while and also at the end responsible for a platform … we bought a company that created the Yahoo! Contributor Network, where we could have hundreds of thousands of people contributing content which could make it into one or many of the Yahoo! verticals to broaden the amount of content we could create, and again empower people to do what they love and to make money doing it.
“So this is a context that’s very familiar to me and near and dear to things that I’m passionate about.”