In the press: Second Life, Tilia Pay & the Metaverse

Friday, September 3rd saw an article by VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi – no stranger to Linden Lab, Second Life and LL – doing the rounds, entitled Will the metaverse bring the second coming of Second Life? While I personally find the term “the metaverse” to be one of the must frequently over-hyped / over-used terms in recent years, Takahashi’s article makes for an interesting read on a number of levels.

The first is that VentureBeat is a well-regarded tech news and events on-line magazine that includes the supplement GamesBeat that focuses on the world of computer, mobile and video games. Between them, they draw down some 6 million unique visitors a month and 12 million page views. That’s potentially a lot of exposure for articles within the publication, and Takahashi’s article was a headline piece for GamesBeat’s front page (although it has since slipped down the ranking somewhat).

Dean Takahashi, lead writer, GamesBeat

The initial part of the article is something of a re-tread of Second Life’s history for those of us familiar with the platform. While the ground covered may well be familiar (and the quoted numbers possibly subject to quibbling in some quarters), this re-treading nevertheless frames SL for those not familiar with it or were unaware it is still around and doing moderately well for itself.

This part of the article also helps frame Linden Lab as an “elder statesman” (so to speak) of the user-generated content frontier, having long since tackled many of the issues and hurdles that those attempting to now define and provide “the metaverse” are just starting to tackle. All of which makes for good reading and certainly helps carry the message that in this day of Facebook, Microsoft, et al trying to foist their visions of what “the metaverse” should be, Linden Lab has the right to say, “been there, done that – and still doing it!”.

However, it’s the latter part of the article that drew my focus, with its referencing of both Tilia Pay and recent moves on the part of the Lab to develop “partnerships” to try to “grow” SL. Both of these are also parts of the article I’ve witnessed as causing some negative gnashing of teeth in some circles, which has also framed my thinking in writing this piece.

In particular, Takahashi’s revelation that Tilia Pay has cost Linden Lab $30 million has raised eyebrows and some grumblings about what this might mean for Second Life’s future.

via the Tilia Pay website

This needs a little context. While LL has spent what seems like a huge amount of money on Tilia, as Takahashi notes, it has been over a 7-year period, starting not long after Ebbe Altberg joined Linden Lab as CEO, and the initial expenditure was required; as Takahashi goes on to point out, for a company like LL to be able to make pay-outs to users (and generally handle fiat money on behalf of its users) it must comply with a range of US federal, state, and international regulations.

In terms of US requirements, this has meant LL had to become a licensed money transmitter at both the federal and state levels – a move more easily achieved by ring-fencing the services that handle all payment processing / transfer into an entity of their own. Had it not do so, then LL would have hit a wall in its ability to make pay-outs. Beyond this, Tilia Pay’s regulated services benefit Second Life in a number of other ways (allowing the use of credit / debit cards within services such as the Marketplace through to assisting with overall user account management and security, for example).

Obviously given a large amount has been sunk into Tilia Pay, it is natural for the Lab’s new owners to want to leverage this expenditure. But this doesn’t mean Tilia Pay and Second Life are, or will become, an “either / or” proposition for the Lab’s future direction.

Rather if Tilia can be made a success, it would mean that Linden Lab – after more than a decade of trying – has gained a second revenue stream it can utilise to help it remain viable moving into the future. Further, it’s long been the philosophy at LL that as long as SL has users enough to ensure it remains a healthy generator of revenue / income, there is little reason to shut it down / sell it, and I’d question this philosophy being radically altered by the success of a second product within the company’s portfolio.

At the end of the piece, Takahashi brings in the subject of Zenescope, and LL’s focus on “partner collaborations”. This appears to be part of what has been referred to as the drive to grow the user base.

It’s not necessarily a bad idea – working with organisations that have established audiences of their own and which could leverage Second Life to add a new dimension of engagement for those audiences. However, it is one that has some significant hurdles to clear: attractions have to be built-out, events need to be organised and run at a tempo that keeps an incoming audience engaged and coming back at a reasonable cadence to make the effort worthwhile, and their must be a path to a practical return on the investment made (time, effort money), and so on; to say nothing of getting people into the experience and comfortable with the viewer UI.

Zenescope Metaverse a new partnership endeavour involving Linden Lab opened in August 2021, but failed to capture the imagination for me See: The Zenescope Metaverse In Second Life

There’s also the question that, even if successful in bringing an audience to Second Life, just how well such partnerships might actually convert members of the audience into engaged Second Life users – something that will be an important measure of success by the current user base, if not necessarily to LL or their partners, who will likely use other criteria to measure the success of these ventures.

In mentioning such partnerships, Takahashi’s piece open the door to broader thinking around where LL might potentially go with this idea in the wake of of the move to AWS.

For example, it’s already been hinted that at some point, LL might look to offer an “on-demand” product. Doing so could potentially be advantageous to potential partners, in they it present a way for them to offer their users experiences in Second Life at a more advantageous price that a 24/7 product that might only be used once or twice a week. Beyond this, there is the question of whether LL might consider entirely private grids for dedicated partners / clients / markets, and even white-labelling such a capability if they did so (thus essentially providing a Second Life Enterprise style of product in a manner and cost that would be far more appealing that that endeavour).

However, given these thoughts do go beyond the article, I’ll put them to one side for now, and just say that if you haven’t already done so, I do recommend giving Will the metaverse bring the second coming of Second Life? a read.

Say hello to Linden Lab’s New VP of Engineering, Mojo Linden, aka Andrew Kertesz

via Linden Lab

Some time between August 11th and August 19th, Linden Lab quietly slipped out a biography of their new Vice President of Operations, who has come aboard to take up the post vacated by Oz Linden at the end of February, when he retired from business after over a decade with Linden Lab.

The new VP of Engineering is Andrew Kertesz, a 20-year veteran of the gaming industry, who joined Linden Lab at the end of July 2021 from Level Ex Inc., a company creating “industry-leading medical video games that challenge physicians to perform at the top of their game”, and where he served as Principal Software Engineer / Principal Engineering Manager for a period of just over year.

The official biography for Mr. Kertesz posted by the Lab (and accessed via the About Linden Lab page on their corporate website) reads as follows:

Andrew Kertesz



Like Oz Linden before him, Mr. Kertesz – who has taken the name of Mojo Linden – will have overall responsibility for managing both the viewer and the simulator engineering teams at the Lab.

As noted in his biography, he comes to the Lab with extensive experience in a range of games development environments, and perhaps most interestingly, he has experience in mobile app development and exposure in managing cloud-based services and applications, both of which are of considerable relevance to Linden Lab.

It is unclear whether he will be as directly hands-on as Oz Linden in terms of chairing in-world meetings such as the Open Source Developer and Third-Party Developer sessions – both of these were particularly within Oz’s sphere of interest, as he was originally brought into Linden Lab to manage the open-source side of viewer development, and so he directly formulated those meetings as we all came to know them. However, we will hopefully get to see Mojo active at least on occasion through the likes of these and sessions such as the Simulator User Group meetings over time. Currently, he’s likely focused on getting his feet firmly under the desk and getting up to speed on everything, and there will doubtless be other opportunities to get to meet him in the future beyond any of these particular meetings as well (Lab Gab, anyone?).

The updated Management Team page on the Linden Research corporate site, with Andrew Kertesz

In the meantime, here are some relevant links.

SL18B: Meet the Moles of Second Life

Friday, June 25th, 2021 saw the fifth and final Meet the Lindens special events take place for the SL Birthday celebrations, featuring Patch Linden and the Moles of the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW).

Unlike previous summaries in this series, this article does note provide a detailed summary of the session, but instead provides some core information on the Moles – who they are, what they do, how to apply to become a Mole, etc., –  before presenting the video recording of the session, which goes into greater detail about the Moles and their work.

Who or What are the Moles?

  • Officially called the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW),  originally formed in 2008. They are managed by Derrick Linden, the Product Operations Manager for Second Life, together with a team of Linden Lab staffers.
  • Moles are residents from all over the world hired by Linden Lab as independent contractors to undertake specific tasks. Their work was originally focused on the Mainland, adding the infrastructure – road, bridges, etc., and the landscaping, as noted in the official LDPW wiki page, although they actually do a lot more than this.
  • Notable major projects carried out by the Moles include:
    • The infrastructure within Nautilus City.
    • The development of Bay City.
    • The Linden Homes continent of Bellisseria (including all topography, flora, infrastructure and housing).
    • The facilities for events like Shop & Hop, the Second Life Birthday, town hall events, the turn-key regions available for businesses, starter avatars, etc.
    • The Lab provided games such as Linden Realms, Paleoquest, Horizons and the grid-wide Tyrah and the Curse of the Magical Glytches – all accessible via the Portal Parks.
  • They also provide support / input for / to technical projects (e.g. Project Bento and the avatar skeleton extension), and work with marketing, QA and other LL teams.
  • In keeping with their name, Moles were originally given a mole avatar, complete with hard hat. However, over the years, most have moved to having a more individual and personal look, although some say with the Mole avatar.
  • As well as being paid for the work they do, Moles also receive and allowance from the Lab, which is primarily intended to go towards the cost of uploads (texture, animations, mesh objects, etc)., but which can also be put towards developing their individual looks.

How to Become a Mole

  • Positions in the LDPW are open to application by residents who believe they are qualified to work in the team, and the team may also approach specific residents and ask if they would consider joining them.
  • Applications are made by dropping a résumé (note card or email) of qualifications / experience (including links SLurls, Flickr, You Tube, etc.) to Derrick Linden ( or to Patch Linden (
  • Applicants have to go through a former interview process.
  • Successful applicants get to pretty much choose their hours of work – providing agreed tasks are completed on time.
  • As they are from around the world, this can allow some projects to move forward on almost a round-the-clock basis.
  • Those who are more fully-rounded in skill sets  – content creation, scripting, etc., – are encouraged to apply, but LL will also take on specialists.
  • Motivated, outgoing, communicative people with a passion for SL and willing to self-teach themselves new skill sets are particularly considered.

SL18B Meet the Lindens: Brett Linden – summary with video

Thursday, June 24th, 2021 saw the fourth in a series of Meet the Lindens events take place for the SL Birthday celebrations, featuring Brett Linden, the Lab’s Vice President of Marketing.

The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised, with selected audio extracts. The full video is located at the end of this article.

Table of Contents

Also, information given in braces ({ and ]), has been provided by myself and did not form a part of the conversation.

About Brett Linden

  • As VP of marketing, Brett Linden manages the team responsible for developing media campaigns and strategic content partnerships for Second Life. Together, they focus on both the acquisition of new users and the retention of existing users for the virtual world.
  • Has more then 2 decades of marketing and journalism experience.
  • In the past decade, he has produced numerous virtual and “mixed reality” events and panels on various academic topics with an emphasis on legitimising and better surfacing the many cultures and communities within virtual environments.
  • From Rolling Stone to Billboard, Brett has also written for major publications and managed multimedia initiatives for and RealNetworks. He has co-founded numerous media sites on-line, including the Second Life Destination Guide and Rolling Stone Radio. As a co-founding editor at, he interviewed Stevie Wonder, David Bowie, Peter Gabriel, Shania Twain, and Bjork.
  • Was drawn to Second Life after trying the platform during its first burst of media exposure in 2006 – specifically trying to find the CNN and Reuters bureaux that were active in SL at that time.
  • At the same time, he received a grant from the McCormick Foundation to run the Virtual Journalism Summit, some of which took place in-world, allowing him to meet Philip Rosedale.
  • He moved from being a resident to being a Linden in 2007.
  • He is as fascinated and intrigued – and sometimes frustrated – but always illuminated by the platform, the residents, the diversity of use and creativity, etc., today, as he was when he started.
  • Did not work on Sansar to a great extent, his focus has always been on Second Life, which is true for the majority of his team.

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Loss of Ebbe Altberg

[Video: 6:05-9:00]

Brett offered his own words in remembrance of Ebbe Altberg, the Lab’s CEO, who passed away recently. Rather than paraphrase him, I’m including an audio recording of his comments.

As a reminder, those wishing to pay their respect to Ebbe can do so at his in-world memorial (see also: Paying respects to Ebbe Altberg in Second Life).

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Second life and the Pandemic

[Video: 10:38-15:23]

  • On a personal level, it’s been tough on the entire marketing team in both the mental toll of being in lockdown, and for some being directly impacted by the loss of others through COVID.
  • The pandemic has caused a lot of attention to be focused on “the metaverse” and virtual worlds / spaces.
  • The early months of the pandemic in 2020 saw a significant spike in SL use in terms of new registrations, concurrency and returning “old” users. This has since dropped, but the metrics are still strong.
  • For the Marketing team, it has meant a major acceleration in workload and pivoting plans and activities, with work levels still at a high level.
  • It felt odd that the pandemic turned the spotlight onto virtual spaces and “the metaverse”, with Second life sharing in some of it, and then working to provide the means for people to leverage the platform to  meet their needs.
  • Even now, media enquiries on the state of Second life remain much higher than they were pre-pandemic, thanks to even tangential things such as non-fungible tokens (NFTs),  so media and PR efforts have had to be extended.
  • LL has hired-in Elizabeth Olsen, who was a founding Executive Editor of Game Informer magazine, as a consultant to support media outreach work, working closely with Brett.

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Marketing Partnerships

[Video: 17:16-25:28]

The NFL Alumni stadium
  • More partnerships coming – possibly in late summer: comics, music, film and graphic novels, etc.
  • All of these are regarded as part of the overall “year of experimenting” for Marketing in an attempt to learn what works / does not work in attracting a new audience.
  • Partnership are not happenstance or based on brand name alone – there is an attempt to build inroads to user engagement where partners have a “fit” with SL and can make active use of the platform.
  • Such partnerships also help with media promotion of SL, allowing LL to point to the partner brands and so generate further media interest.
  • The work is not at the point of bringing in “Triple A” artists, etc., but the partnerships are with well-known entities that are open to using SL to extend their fanbase or their communities.

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Diversity in Marketing

[Video: 27:45-29:57]

  • LL does try to promote diversity in SL, but acknowledges more could be done. Work is put into promoting community work through Flickr and YouTube.
  • Promotional work through the likes of social media is subject to checking that it is being as inclusive as possible given the broad diversity of Second Life communities.
  • The furry community has recently been a focus, but rather than being self-congratulatory about it, the team notes it is something that has been overdue – and their are other communities that also deserve promotion.

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Blogs and Social Media Strategy

[Video: 30:22-36:05]

  • Social media is a core element in promoting Second Life – not just through official channels, but because users themselves are prolific in promoting the platform through their channels. Flickr is s good example of this.
  • LL tries to leverage this organic content to help amplify the community and Second Life.
  • YouTube influencers are another means for the Lab to help promote SL.
  • The Lab’s own content includes the likes of the Destination videos that help highlight locations and communities; the Lab Gab series; Second life Book Club; Music Mondays, the newer Showcase Streams – drop-in livestreams of in-world events; picture of the day, etc.
  • All of this is promoted in the official blogs, but is also amplified to broader audiences as well.
  • There’s also the Second Life Blogger Network (SLBN) that showcases users’ blogs, with 660 bloggers already enrolled.

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External Media Advertising, Paid Ads, and Strategies

[Video: 41:42-48:31]

  • External media advertising is a strategy, and does vary month-by-month due to budget and things like the seasonality of Second Life in terms of balancing ad spend against growth.
  • The Marketing budget also covers general PR for Second Life.
  • A portion of the Marketing budget does go on ad spend / performance marketing (where advertisers pay marketing companies or advertising platforms for results achieved, such as clicks or conversion). This has seen an accelerated return over the last two years, again possible due to the pandemic.
  • A new area the Lab is now looking at is on-line video advertising. This has been taking the form of 30-second clips from the Destination videos produced for LL, which are pushed to various channel for promotion (and are not necessarily seen on the Lab’s main YouTube channel).
  • Another area for advertising is via cord-cutting platforms (essentially people moving away from traditional satellite and cable services and into streaming services, many of which are ad-supported).  This offers enormous potential for ad placement, as is something the Lab is looking at.
  • Most / all of these strategies are developed by Darcy Linden, who is now the Director of Marketing, and who has a wealth of experience in the digital advertising sphere.
  • Another aspect of the Marketing work is the brand refresh and renewing the message of what does Second Life mean to different audiences – and what it could mean to those who have never heard of it.
  • The “win back” campaign is a further spoke in the wheel – trying to win back users who have stopped using SL for whatever reason.
    • [1:23:36-1:26:47] one aspect of this is an incentive (Linden Dollars of varying amounts) and rewards (free virtual gifts) based approach. Such approaches are not uncommon in the US, and the Lab has achieved reasonable success with it.
    • Another approach to to win back former users organically – showing them the value of coming back (e.g. reconnecting with old friends, showing them new opportunities for engagement / discovery, etc.).
    • When handled correctly, such campaigns can be very successful, but they also can be difficult to get right, simply because people can leave a platform for a wide range of reasons; thus there is a lot more to be done in refining the work in this area, but the results have been pleasing.

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General Q&A

The following is a selection of the questions that generated fuller answers and / or had a marketing lean.

  • [36:10-41:00] Helping in-world Businesses market themselves: is there a way LL can help in-world business promote themselves and reach a wider audience?
    • First off – full credit to the likes of Seraphim and blogs that do similar work.
    • Also appreciates all the e-zines produced by SL users and made available through the likes of
    • LL wants to support these endeavours and draw attention to them, again through featuring on the SLBN pages, etc.
    • There are also obviously tools such as the Destination Guide, the Marketplace and events listings that can all be leveraged by users, creators and communities.
    • A new service people can sign-up to is the events e-mail list.
    • There’s also the official Message of the Day (MOTD) in the viewer’s log-in screen which can at times be used to promote events [note: some TPVs generate their own MOTD, so this may differ from what is seen in the official viewer].
  • [48:33-53:44] How can SL residents help promote the platform?
    • Word of Mouth. Now more than ever, SL is something to be proud of in the way it enables social connections through situations like this pandemic, and give people the means to reach out, connect and share.
    • Not everyone may be comfortable is talking about their involvement with the platform, but for those who are, the encouragement to do so is there to do so by showing off activities, sharing with friends, etc.
    • Also – be kind to newcomers within the platform; help them with any issues they may be having, be welcoming, etc. As much as the sign-up and New User Experience is for on-boarding, a big slice of whether newcomers stay or not is how the local population respond to them.
  • [1:02:33-1:05:59] What do you think SL will be like when it turns 20?
    • This has been a topic of discussion within the Lab already, simply because it is such a milestone, including the potential for product and feature sets, but these are outside of the Marketing remit to discuss.
    • On a personal perspective, essentially cracking the challenge that ensures incoming users have an experience that matches the promise of whatever ad , etc., than brought them through the door, and where the basics of just on-boarding and customising an avatar are so straightforward, the churn of users arriving and leaving is greatly reduced, and the entire process is much more engaging and encourages people to stay and learn and explore.
  • [1:08:09-1:09:36] Is the Lab entirely US-centric?
    • The Marketing Team is entirely US-centric, and the company by its nature is US-centric [being based in California, etc.]
    • There are contractors (the Moles) who are more global in nature.
  • [1:14:45-1:16:32] Will Mainland be promoted?
    • Mainland is an area where the Marketing team needs to do more.  There are unique characteristics available there – such as the ability to  explore on foot or by vehicles.
    • LL have done a six-part video series on the Second Life Rail Road (SLRR), which covered the Mainland tracks, and more could be done in that vein.
  • [1:18:27-1:22:43] Could LL get Facebook to allow the use of accounts in avatar names?
    • Aware that this has been a problem for many SL / Facebook users, and that some have worked around it by using Facebook pages.
    • It would be good for those wish wish, and who prefer to use their SL identities over their wallet identities to be able to use Facebook, although that’s a policy decision on FB’s part.
    • Equally, is aware that many SL users either do not want to use Facebook, and/or only want their SL identities in the public eye, and so doesn’t want to give the impression either of these choices would be at risk; it is purely in the context of helping those who want to do so, not forcing SL users to use it.
  • [1:27:02-1:31:15] Why doesn’t Twitch allow streaming from SL? Can this be changed?
    • Second Life is currently on the Twitch restricted games list due to SL supporting full freedom of expression, including adult content, which can fall outside of Twitch’s usage guidelines. This is obviously Twitch’s choice
    • There are clearly strategic reasons why LL would like to see Twitch allow streaming from SL; however, LL also don’t want to compromise the integrity of SL and all of its communities by changing the platform purely to allow streaming to Twitch.
    •  As such, there is a dialogue between the two companies that may lead to this being changed,  although it is early days, and nothing can be promised purely from LL’s side on whether Twitch will change their view of SL.
  • [1:31:23-1:36:38] Can LL get rock groups in to SL?
    • LL is looking at entertainment / brand partnerships that are a good fit. Established musicians are among some of those the Lab is talking to. The beauty here is that this is a low-risk, potentially mutually beneficial approach that lets both LL and the partner concerned try something, and explore what works / doesn’t work.
    • Critical aspects to consider (from the potential partner’s perspective) is the the potential audience reach, quality and integrity of the experience, will there been an option to embedded merchandise / e-commerce into the experience,  etc. However, there are brands and artists that LL is is discussion with, and one may be announced in the near future.
    • These initiatives should not been seen as trying to take anything away from SL’s own vibrant music community – live performers and DJs. They are purely about raising the platforms visibility and trying to extend its audience reach,.
    • Virtual cinemas and working with the likes of Titmouse is another approach.
    • [In a somewhat different context, Duran Duran once dabbled in Second Life, and in 2011 there was a competition run in SL on behalf of the group.]
  • [1:42:50-1:45:00] Has LL engaged with the arts community / museums, etc., for Marketing? Have there been successes?
Virtual Peale in Second Life
  • [1:45:51-1:50:02] What is the Lab’s strategy for attracting young adults to the platform?
    • This is an important aspect, given the success of Roblox over the last couple of years. While that audience is predominantly of an age that is too young for SL, they are a potential audience for the future as they start to look for more sophisticated creative outlets. So the question is how can SL be positioned for this, particularly given an audience from something like Roblox will already be well-versed in the concepts of user-generated content and sandbox-style environments.
    • Should Second Life itself seek a younger audience? That’s a tougher question. Yes, it would be nice to have broader, younger engagement if the platform were set-up to support it. However, the platform is mature, does have sophisticated [adult] content, so a lot of capabilities [/safeguards] that are not currently in place would be needed in  order for the platform to accommodation minors;  so how would the platform reach a younger audience without jeopardising what has been achieved would need to be carefully addressed.
    • In addition, the product development teams are developing a roadmap of feature sets that might open up or restrict how SL would be amenable / agreeable to a younger audience.
    • LL  also looks at the senior demographic as well as  an opportunity, but ultimately, what SL does today, and does well, has to be a significant factor in marketing the platform.
  • [1:51:25-1:53:08] Can LL help support those who manage communities in SL – promotion, etc?
    • From a marketing perspective, always want to support those who support SL and a positive user experience, with a particular emphasis on new users coming into the platform who are critical to growth. So in this regard, there is the Community Gateway Programme.
    • If people have a proposal for how LL can help support communities, then please submit it to the leadership team.
  • [1:54:14-End] Will data / metrics on SL use be made more regularly available for journos, etc?
    • Data does play a big role in Marketing [see: The Heart & Science of Second Life Marketing], but this does not mean that everything is purely driven by algorithms. There is a combination of analysis and data collection to ensure marketing efforts aren’t skewed in a certain direction.
    • In terms of general metrics, LL does try to be transparent, although there are some data points that are not made public. The stats that are vetted for accuracy and publicly shared include:
      • Total registered accounts: +70 million.
      • Average daily usage: currently 200,000 users across 200 countries.
      • GDP: equivalent to US $600 million.
      • Creator cash-outs in last 12 months: over US $80 million.
    • It may be possible to put these stats on the SL website.

Feedback on Marketing

[Video: 26:00-27:39]

Feedback on marketing campaigns, on ideas, etc., can be given through the following channels:

  • E-mail
  • In-world IM.
  • Official forums.

SL18B Meet the Lindens: Grumpity Linden – summary with video

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021 saw the third in a series of Meet the Lindens events take place for the SL Birthday celebrations, featuring Grumpity Linden, the Lab’s Vice President of Product and interim Vice President of Engineering.

The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised, with selected audio extracts. The full video is located at the end of this article.

Table of Contents

Also, information given in braces ({ and ]), has been provided by myself and do not form a part of the conversation.

About Grumpity Linden

  • Heads up Second Life Product team, where she has overseen a shift to growth, a stronger, more balanced economy, movement towards better community cohesion, and an overall forward-looking approach.
  • Originally came to Linden Lab while working for The Product Engine, a company providing end-to-end consulting and software development services, and which supports viewer development at the Lab, and she was initially involved in the development and viewer 2 (as designed by 80/20 Studio).
  • She became a “full-time Linden” in 2014. Her current position involves coordinating the various teams involved in bringing features and updates to Second Life (e.g. Engineering and QA), liaising with legal, financial and compliance to ensure features and capabilities meet any specific requirements in those areas, etc. This work can involve looking at specifics within various elements of the overall SL product, such as UI design and layout, etc.
  • Prior to working for Linden Lab (first joining as a contractor in 2009 and then full-time in 2014), she was involved in a number of industries, including technology, higher education, and oil & gas. She enjoys exploring worlds both virtual and physical and takes pride in building bridges – personal and professional.
  • Holds a Master’s in Computer Science and a Bachelor’s from same in Computer Science & Psychology, both from Johns Hopkins University. She finds leading the Second Life product a joy because it allows her to draw on both areas of study.

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Loss of Ebbe Altberg

Grumpity offered her own recollections on Ebbe Altberg, the Lab’s CEO, who passed away recently. As with the other summaries in this series, I’m including her comments as an audio file, rather than paraphrasing her words, which can be heard in the first 10 minutes of the video.

As a reminder, those wishing to pay their respect to Ebbe can do so at his in-world memorial (see also: Paying respects to Ebbe Altberg in Second Life).

Change of Roll and in the leadership Team with Oz’s Departure

[Video 4:38-7:10]

  • Misses working with Oz, and views their relationship at the Lab one of partners working together.
  • Has been terrifying since his departure, as her responsibilities have expanded to cover his teams, but also finds it exciting to face the new challenges until the new VP of Engineering joins LL.
    • The new VP has apparently been hired, and will be starting “soon-ish”.
  • Fortunately, the overall leadership team hasn’t seen too much upset with Oz’s departure, as they all work well together.

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Migration to AWS

[Video: 9:58-17:10]

  • LL operated the “old school” approach of running their own hardware and infrastructure in a dedicated environment [the co-location facility in Arizona], with operations very much locked-in to that environment, with periodic upgrades and purchase / replacement of existing hardware.
  • With AWS, Second Life is now hosted by Amazon Web Services (AWS).  The advantages are:
    • LL able to focus on core competency of running and enhancing SlL and not have to worry about managing the underpinning hardware and infrastructure.
    • There are no longer periodic blocks of capital expenditure that must planned and be made to replace aged / depreciated hardware, etc.
    • LL can be more nimble in responding to the needs of SL by having a large pool of server types from which to choose from, and the ability to “tier up” to new and faster hardware as the need arises.
    • This offers the potential for new and enhanced land product offerings, the potential to geolocate servers closer to their primary audience etc.
  • Most of the transition work went smoothly, although due to certain hardware assumptions, there were some issues [e.g. the Map tile update problem] that took time to correct – although many of the issues towards the end of the process  were more to do with trying to operate one or two services in the co-lo facility when everything else was running via AWS.
  • The move has not reduced operational costs: the servers are still running 24/7, and Amazon obviously charge for this, and financial savings were not the motivator for the move: it was about ensuring SL’s longevity.

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Roadmap for Next 12 months

[Video 22:37-25:57 and 53:18-54:48]

  • Performance and stability are an on-going project across multiple area – script processing, region crossings [physical and teleport], viewer performance, Search performance, etc.
  • Simulator-wise, there will be experiments in different server types and what gives better performance for different use cases.
  • Further out there will also be the potential for new land product offerings [e.g. the “event tier regions” Patch referenced in his session].
  • There may be experiments around geolocating servers and simulators based on audience location, although it will be some time before the Lab will be in a position to offer this.
  • [53:18-54:14] The New User Experience, which involves Product operations, Marketing, viewer development and simulator engineering, and extends beyond just the on-boarding process to encompass how new users get to understand the platform, get to connect with others, how the platform is marketed to both new audience and to those who were once users but have fallen away & get them re-engaged, etc.
  • [54:15-54:48] Making the process of customising the avatar easier to understand and do. [See also Patch’s comment on New Starter avatars.]

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Graphics Related Topics

  • [26:02-29:30] EEP: had a rough roll-out and slow adoption period, but is now being more widely used, although there are currently no plans to enhance it at this point in time.
  • [35:55-38:53] ARCTan: an attempt to re-evaluate avatar rendering costs and the cost of in-world scene rendering.
    • The current focus on avatar rendering cost / impact, with the in-world scene rendering / LI to be tackled at some point in the future.
    • A viewer is currently in development that pulls together all the rendering information together and better presents it to the user. The idea is to provide users with more complete data on their viewer performance such that they can make informed decisions on what to do to improve things.
    • [This work is reported on in my regular Content Creation User Group meeting summaries.]
    • Beyond ARCTan the Lab is looking at performance, scene complexity and rendering as a whole in an attempt to improve viewer-side performance for as many people as possible.
  • [38:57-39:25] Support for VR headsets is not off the table, but there are a lot of things that would need to be done in order for SL to offer meaningful support for VR.
  • 45:10-46:15] updating the viewer code to better utilised multi-core processors is something the Lab is looking to address, but no time frames as to when it might be seen.
  • [48:04-48:38] While the rendering system is to be improved, there are no plans to switch to a commercial engine such as Unreal or Unity at present, although this does not mean the idea is entirely off the table long-term.

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Open-Source Viewer Development

[Video 29:56-33:03]

  • The Lab remains committed to open-source development for the viewer, and values the input and contribution from the open-source  / third-party viewer community.
  • While it is acknowledged the open-source path can be difficult at times, it is equally acknowledged the open-source nature of the viewer is a positive force within and for Second Life.
  • The third-party viewer (TPV) development community is kept in mind at the Lab when developing new viewer features [and similarly, the TPV / open-source community offer viewer code contributions to LL for incorporation into the official viewer].

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SL Mobile

[Video: 34:05-35:48]

  • The iOS version of the SL Mobile communications app is in alpha, and should be going to beta “soon”.
  • It will not support 3D rendering from the outset, but is solely focused on communications.
  • [An Android version is in development, but is some way behind the iOS version.]
  • [For periodic SL Mobile updates in this blog, use my SL Mobile tag and my Web User Group meeting summaries.]

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General Q&A

This section covers the majority of questions that were responded to in some detail. Note that questions specific to the topics given above are included under those topic headings.

  • [17:12-19:03 ] Search and Group Chat:
    • It is recognised that Search is “wonky” at presents, and the engineers are looking into matters, although there is likely to be more than one issue that will need to be addressed.
    • Some changes will be rolling out to help with stability, but there is still more investigation to be done before fixes for specific issues with Search results, etc. can be deployed.
    • Group chat is regarded as a “labour of love”, with work routinely being carried out to try to resolve issues and improve performance.
  • [19:19-20:27] Teleport Failures: there has been an increase in reports of teleport failures / viewer disconnects during teleport
    • LL is aware of these reports, although teleport metrics gathered show a 98% success rate across the grid of teleports.
    • It is believed that the this might be because the problems being experienced are not being reported as teleport failures, or the metrics simply aren’t picking them up. Either way, the issue is subject to investigation and analysis.
  • [41:26-43:00] Mini-Map and security orbs: Could parcels using security orbs / systems be annotated on the mini-Map in the same way as parcels using ban lines?
    • Probably not. A better solution would be to improve the means by which those travelling the grid get forewarning about active security systems.
  • [49:56-51:30] “Sub groups” and Group categories: Has consideration been to given to implementing some form of sub-group system (e.g. a separate category of groups purely for land management)?
    • Might be better to re-examine how Groups work and offer alternative functionality for cases where they are used, but are not potentially the best mechanism to achieve the desired goal.
    • Categorising Groups by use type might also work.
  • [51:48-53:16] Bigger oceans: Can the grid be made more “world-like” with bigger oceans?
    • Whilst a cool idea, LL needs to focus on priority items [There is also the fact that large number of Void (water) regions require servers = increased cost to LL, as noted by Patch in his session.]
  • [57:21-59:07] Jira and issue reporting: Can there be an alternative to filing a Jira / raising a ticket for reporting / getting information on issues (e.g. a “non-technical” user group for dealing the technical issues, providing information via e-mail etc.)?
    • There are already multiple channels by which issues can be reported – Jira, user group meetings with dates and SL times via the SL public calendar as well, support channels, etc.
    • Adding more channels further dilutes how information is received and managed & also dilutes the time available to investigate an work on issues.
  • [59:19-1:01:15] Simulator release information: Where can people go to find out what has changed following server deployments and creators can actually test changes in advance, as release notes don’t always give sufficient information?
    • LL tries to be as open as possible about the issues they are working on; however, sever-side, it’s not always prudent to cover some issues in-depth [as doing so can accidentally reveal information on the inner workings of the simulators that some might try to exploit].
  • [1:01:29-1:01:57] Off-line inventory management: Would it be possible to organise inventory off-line?
    • There are actually a couple of proposals for how this might be approached, but this is not currently a project that is being actively worked on.
  • [1:03:01-1:04:22] Scripting language: Could a more conventional (JavaScript / C++, etc.), scripting language be adopted?
    • It would be a huge projects and the costs (in terms of implementation / amount of work involved,  / potential impact, etc), would have to be weighed again potential benefits.
    • It is unlikely to be a project for the short-term,  but nothing is off the table.
  • [1:04:36-1:07:07] Simplifying mesh clothing: Can there be a means to make mesh clothing be more of a “one size fits all” ability, rather than having individual fits for individual body types?
    • Trying to introduce a new “standard” is not easy, as it will simply join all the other “standards” already available. However, there are probably ways in which some of the variants could be “tightened up”, and this is what is being thought about.
    • While there will always be exceptions, due to the ability to create customised avatar  forms (e.g. stick figures), such that any solution is unlikely to work for everyone, it doesn’t mean the attempt shouldn’t be made to simplify things for the majority whilst still allowing for the wider variety for the “edge cases”.
  • [1:07:16-1:08:27] SL usage metrics: Will SL usage data, etc., be made more regularly available?
    • Metrics and infographics do tend to be given to journalists, and it is something that would benefit from being done more regularly in order to shift the narrative about Second Life and its relevance.
  • [1:08:56-1:10:56] World Map: Will there be further enhancements to the World Map (e.g. overlays with additional info – continent names, etc)?
    • It is possible. LL intends to work on the World Map in the future.
  • [1:12:16-1:13:20] SL on TV: Thoughts on the use of SL on “CSI: NY” [season 4, episode 5, Down the Rabbit Hole, 2007]
    • Before Grumpity’s time, but suspects LL were delighted with the exposure at the time.
    • She can remember SL being included (on Dr. Phil [2015 in a segment dealing with on-line gaming and addiction – see A look at Dr. Phil’s show “featuring” Second Life] and liked it.
  • [1:14:45-1:15:56] Mainland / derendering: As many on Mainland use skyboxes with surrounds to block views of surrounding skyboxes, could Mainland parcels be set to derender objects outside of them when above a certain altitude, so skybox users could make use of EEP?
    •  Technically difficult to implement. Also, mainland is about having neighbours.
  • [1:16:00-1:18:49] SL population count: What is the current Second Life population?
    • This depends on how you define “population”. Average daily concurrency [at the time of recording] averages 40,000 with peak concurrency frequently hitting 55,000. It also tends to be cyclical throughout the day.
    • However, there are other metrics: hours spent in-world; daily active users (approx. 200,000), monthly active users, users returning to the platform (are they an active community of users who just “stepped away” from SL for a time?).
    • Seasonality also plays a role in determining when and how to assess overall population, and most recently, the pandemic has altered things a lot in terms of engagement.
  • [1:19:16-1:20:40] Parcelling land vertically: Would it be possible to parcel land vertically, as a 3D space to allow for individual audio streaming, etc.,  at different heights and within different spaces?
    • It is possible, but certainly not a trivial undertaking,.
    • However, would result in more people potentially competing for the same server resources. As such, it leans toward being impractical, as it would require server resources to be artificially limited.
  • [1:20:50-1:22:12] Account limits: How many avatars can a person have, and is there any kind of limit?
    • There is no longer any form of limit, and people can create as many accounts as they need / wish. Freedom of expression and anonymity are at the core of the SL experience, and this is reflected in people’s freedom to have multiple accounts.


SL18B Meet the Lindens: Patch Linden – a summary with video and audio

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021 saw the third in a series of Meet the Lindens events take place for the SL Birthday celebrations, featuring Patch Linden, the Lab’s Vice President of Product Operations.

The following is a summary of the session covering the core topics raised, with selected audio extracts. The full video is located at the end of this article.

Table of Contents

Note that this is a summary, not a full transcript, and items have been grouped by topic, so may not be presented chronologically when compared to the video.

The TL;DR List of Key Points

  • Linden Homes:
    • Fantasy theme will be available “soon” – there are a few things still to be finalised.
    • As with the Chalet homes, the Fantasy house styles will come in a choice of “with rooms” or “open plan”.
    • The houses will be made available on a sub-continent that will be a part of Bellisseria, but not physically joined to it.
    • This continent will have its own seasonal cycles.
    • Once it is available, there will be around 3 or 4 more themes to come.
    • Once the role-out of new themes has been completed, there will be something of a refresh of some themes.
  • New User Experience: should surface in the next few weeks. It utilises integrated elements of new on-boarding region design, new tutorials and web content access through the viewer, which also includes UI changes intended to assist new users. The approach is intended to be context-oriented rather than task oriented, as has tended to be the case.
  • New starter avatars: a new fully mesh / Bento / BoM capable starter avatar is under consideration. It  will be intended to ease the process of understanding avatar customisation, etc., whilst giving the basic SL avatar a more modern, complete refresh.  However, it is not intended to compete with existing mesh avatars.
  • Roadmap for the next 12 months: complete the Linden Homes deployment, deploy the New User Experience, develop the new start avatars + the release / testing of the “event tier region” product.

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About Patch Linden

  • Originally a Second Life resident and business owner who joined the platform in 2004, and became a Linden in 2007.
  • Initially worked as a support agent and then as a support liaison. From there he moved to the Concierge team, eventually becoming that team’s manager.
  • Shifted focus to the role of Operations Support Manager for a year, then moved to the Product group, the team responsible for defining the features, etc., found within Second Life.
  • At Product he developed the Land Operations team, which includes the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW).
  • In 2018, he established the company’s support office in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • In 2020 he oversaw the move to larger office space in Atlanta, although the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic means the new premises have yet to be used.
  • In 2019 he was promoted to Vice President, Product Operations, and joined the Lab’s management team alongside Grumpity and Oz Linden (see: Linden Lab’s management team expands: congrats to Grumpity, Patch and Oz).
  • Together with Grumpity and Oz, he formed the leadership team overseeing Second Life’s continued development, this team now comprising Patch, Grumpity and Brett Linden.
  • In his management team role, Patch continues to oversee all of the Lab’s user support operations (some 5 teams), including the LDPW.
  • Despite his longevity at the Lab, his is not the longest-serving Linden, nor is he the “oldest” resident-turned-Linden.
  • Sees the most significant changes to SL during his time being: the arrival of voice (2007), Mesh (2010), Pathfinding (2011), Experience Keys (initially 2015, fully in 2019/2020), Bento  (2016/17), Animesh (2018/19) and EEP (2018/19), and Bakes on Mesh (2019).

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Loss of Ebbe Altberg

Patch again expressed comments on the passing of Ebbe Altberg, Linden Lab’s CEO, and again, rather than paraphrase him, is words are in the audio below, lifted from the the 9:09 point of the video through to 14:07 minutes .

As a reminder, those wishing to pay their respect to Ebbe can do so at his in-world memorial (see also: Paying respects to Ebbe Altberg in Second Life).

The Pandemic and Second Life

[Video: 19:05-23:08]

  • Given the Lab has always had a very strong working-from-home ethos and in using the the platform for company work, the transition out of office working was not a major impact.
  • Second Life has seen increases in the GDP, the LindeX and in returning users who having logged-in for some time.
  • Linden Lab recognises that while the platform has been of great help to many around the world during the pandemic, they equally understand that this has also been a period of great stress and potential loss for some.

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Linden Homes and Bellisseria

[Video: 23:52-45:15]

  • The Fantasy theme is being previewed at SL18B – see SL18B: A Look at the Linden Homes Fantasy Theme Preview.
    • Each of the four styles will be offered in both a floor plan version (as seen in the SL18B preview region) and in an “open plan concept” version.
    • The design for the Fantasy theme has been developed with the idea that it can be applied to multiple fantasy themes – elven. human, faerie, etc.
    • The new Fantasy theme will be within a sub-continent rather than an overall part of Bellisseria. It will still be classified as a part of Bellisseria, but will not have a direct connection to the existing Bellisseria regions.
      • It has yet to be determined whether there will be air and / or water connections with the rest of the continent, or whether it will only be linked by some form of portal connection.
      • This continent will have seasonal changes throughout the year. Winter will not have snow, but will see a cold, blue environment.
    • It is hoped the theme will be released Soon™, although there are still decisions to be made and work to be completed – such as the community hub for the theme.
The Fantasy theme of Linden Homes at SL18B under their natural night sky (the day cycle will naturally change on the Fantasy Home regions)
  • Once Fantasy theme has been released, there will be around three or four more themes to come.
    • [49:26-49:50] Two of these themes are being built in parallel to the Fantasy theme, and one of these is almost “content complete”.
  • The Bellisseria community has been integral to the success and growth of the continent.
  • Work has not started on retiring the “old” Linden Homes and their sub-continents, and is unlikely to commence until 2022. LL do not want to start on this until  there is sufficient variety and stock of new homes to appeal to all who still have one of the older Homes.
  • In terms of obtaining a Linden Home, the key is to be patient.
    • New themes are released on a rolling cycle, and their is no need to stand on the edge of regions awaiting their release – in fact, just because region X has been released does not mean region Y next door will be “next”. The system doesn’t work like that.
    • The best way to obtain a home of choice is to watch the Linden Homes page, and then take one as styles become available, and work within the refresh / house change caps that have been set.
  • There is a new development in the works that involves Bellisseria and the Linden Homes. It is not a major project, but will be themed around Halloween.

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New User Experience

[Video: 45:16-48:55]

  • The new New User experience will involve:
    • A completely new region design for on-boarding users, together with updated tutorials.
    • New viewer elements (currently found within the Project UI RC viewer).
    • Web-based support accessed  through the viewer.
  • “Doing things” will be a part of this experience, but will not be the focus for it.
  • Rather, it is recognised that incoming users will have a degree of computer knowledge, including knowledge gained from other games / platforms. So, part of the work has been to study other on-boarding processes and work out what really needed to be done to more easily transitions users coming from other on-line environments into used Second Life and gaining a reasonable grounding in how basic things work.
  • As such, the focus is not so much activity-driven (walk here, pick up that, jump there), but is more context driven, with virtual space, tutorial, web content and viewer all tightly interwoven to drive the process.
  • This should be coming on-stream in a  matter of weeks.

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New Start Avatars

[Video 49:51-54:39]

  • A new all-mesh / Bento-enabled and Bakes on Mesh avatar is being considered as the default new starter avatar.
  • This will likely replace the Ruth avatar (which will not vanish entirely, due to backwards compatibility), and will be a single head-to-toe avatar design that will respond to the existing slider system & intended to make getting to grips with basic avatar customisation easier.
  • A further aspect to the avatar is to help to make the new starter avatar look a lot more modern and more in keeping with other avatar styles in SL.
  • However, it will not be designed to compete with existing mesh avatars, but will be purely to get people to a point where they understand the avatar sufficiently well enough to be able to move on to using more complex avatar options.

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Support and Governance

[Video: 55:12-1:03:11]


  • Support enjoys a very healthy / respected satisfaction rate, with the general turn-around time for enquiries / issues being measured in hours, not days or weeks.
  • User surveys generally give a very high satisfaction rate from those who take them, as reflected in the rewards nominated for support staff by users (and yes, the staff really do get the rewards!).


  • In difference to Second life hearsay, Abuse Reports are reviewed and where required, actioned.
  • There can appear be a delay in responding to some reports, simply because some issues are more urgent than others (e.g. account hacking is a much more serious issue than name-calling), and the high-priority issues must be dealt with first – particularly if they are time critical (e.g. serious griefing).
  • Some abuse reports  – such as reports of harassment – do take time to  be responded to, simply because the Governance team often has to build-up a chain of evidence, and care must be taken to investigate both sides of the equation.
  • Some reports are not acted upon, simply because they come down to he said / she said situations, where no clear determination can be made, while mechanisms for others (e.g. people being “mean” or name-calling) are within the viewer to allow direct action to be taken – blocking / muting.

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Roadmap for the Nest 12 Months

[Video: 1:05:25-1:14:38]

  • Linden Homes the deployment of the remaining themes,  including a “V2” of a particular home type + implementing “open plan” expansions to the existing Traditional and Victorian Homes.
  • The new New User Experience and new starter avatars, as discussed.
  • A possible new game that may eventually dovetail into the New User Experience, possibly towards the latter part of 2022 (although it may be pushed back).
  • New land products that leverage AWS hardware capabilities.
    • Current focus is on an “events tier region” type designed to support events at peak simulator performance (time dilation at 0.999, simulator FPS at 45.0).
    • An initial version of this product is in use within the SL18B regions, supporting the auditorium and the live stage.
    • The region type has yet to be tested for managing higher avatar numbers – although a good part of this impact is more viewer side then within the client (outside of things like teleport and script handling).
    • There are still decisions to be made on how to pitch and price this product. However it is hoped more information on it will be available in the next few weeks.

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Q&A Session

[Video: 1:16:40-end]

Please refer to the video.