On Tuesday, July 9th, 2020, linden Lab announced it is to be acquired by “an investment group led by Randy Waterfield and Brad Oberwager”.
The acquisition is currently pending approval by financial regulators in the U.S., due to the Lab’s subsidiary, Tilia Inc., which forms part and parcel of the acquisition.
The full statement on the matter, which can be read on the Lab’s corporate website, includes a statement from Linden Lab CEO, Ebbe Altberg:
We’re excited for this new chapter to begin. We see this as an opportunity to continue growth and expansion for Second Life and our money services business Tilia. We’re grateful for the ongoing support from our community, business partners and investors. Now more than ever, there is increased recognition of the value and utility of virtual worlds to bring people together for safe, shared, and social on-line experiences.
Once the acquisition is finalised, both Mr. Waterfield and Mr. Oberwager will join the Lab’s Board of directors.
Bradford Oberwager has founded and/or run five tech/CPG companies—Jyve, Bare Snacks (acquired by PepsiCo), True & Good! Snacks, Acumins/more.com (acquired by HealthCentral), and Blue Tiger/Open Webs (acquired by CarParts).
J. Randall Waterfield is Chairman of The Board & Chief Executive Officer of Waterfield Group, one of the largest private financial organisations in the United State, and occupies board positions on a number of other companies and organisations.
Also commenting on the acquisition, Brad Oberwager states:
Both the company and its virtual world community have a unique culture and creative energy that remain important to the long-term success of Second Life. There’s a bright future for both Second Life and Tilia and we’re excited to help fuel these growth opportunities.
With the news breaking on Twitter, Altberg responded to questions on what it means for Second Life with a simple “Continued Greatness!”
I reached out to linden Lab on finding out the news, but was informed the company has no further comment on the acquisition beyond the press release.
However, given that the acquisition will see Mr. Waterfield and Mr. Oberwager joining the board, I would anticipate that – given the nature of acquisitions – it is unlikely there will be any immediate visible changes to Linden Lab, Second Life or Tilia Inc., and, and the company will likely to continue to operate in a “business as usual” mode with regards to both Second Life operations and the community for the immediate future. That said, there will likely be a lot of speculation as to the future of SL, together with concerns / fears as to what the longer-term future might be.
While it is purely speculative on my part, I would hazard a guess that the acquisition will take into consideration the increased interest Second life has witnessed over the last year(ish), and particularly as a result of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, and will see in inflow of cash for the company that will allow it to (hopefully) meet its immediate goals with both Second Life and Tilia Inc., and allow both platforms to continue to be developed.
This is certainly the belief held by Linden Lab’s co-founder, Philip Rosedale, who now heads-up High Fidelity Inc. Also quoted in the press release, he states:
Since its inception 17 years ago, Second Life has been a pioneer in the concepts of virtual societies, land and economies. I’ve known Brad [Oberwager] for 14 years personally and professionally, and I’m confident he will bring his passion and proven strategies to help Linden Lab achieve new heights in distribution, scale, and quality while remaining true to the original vision, creativity, and community that makes Second Life unique and special.
Source: Linden Research, Inc. to Be Acquired, Thursday, July 9th, 2020.
With thanks to Whirly Fizzle for the pointer.