On Monday, May 2nd, 2022, Linden Lab announced it has added two new leadership roles: those of Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) – the first time that either role has been embodied within the company.
Interestingly, the news came not from the Lab (at the time of writing, the press release had yet to be officially posted) but via prnewswire.com. Both roles will embrace Second Life and Tilia, the Lab’s virtual economy payment processing platform.
Both roles will span across Linden’s full portfolio of businesses to support growth driven by the rapidly expanding consumer interest in metaverses and the technology platforms necessary to support them as well as other virtual worlds and marketplaces.
– Linden Research Inc.
Taking on the role of CMO is Steven Feuling, a 30-year marketing veteran and former CEO. He has worked with and for some of the world’s best known brands including Microsoft, Bloomberg LLC, The Walt Disney Company, 20th Century Fox, E*Trade and General Motors, as well as several successful start-ups.
Having held senior roles with clients, agencies and media partners, most recently as President of MDC Partners’ Assembly, he offers a unique perspective to support both Second Life and Tilia. In his role as CMO, Feuling will oversee all marketing and communications efforts across the Lab’s portfolio.
Peter Capraro, joining the Lab as the new CISO, has spent nearly half of his career focused on financial services cybersecurity. Most recently, he was the deputy CISO at fintech start-up, Akoya, a spin-off from Fidelity Investments, and held security roles at Bank of America for 10 years.
Capraro’s wealth of experience within the cyber security space is seen as “instrumental” to the Lab’s information security and compliance initiatives, which span both Tilia and Second Life. In his role as CISO, he will serve as the strategic leader responsible for maintaining a corporate-wide information security programme to protect information assets, and ensure security for the company and it users.
Steven and Peter are filling critical roles for Linden Lab, as the virtual world landscape takes front stage again. Each of their respective expertise at both successful start-ups and world-renowned companies will have a tremendous impact on our leadership teams for both Second Life and Tilia.
– Brad Oberwager, Executive Chairman of Linden Research Inc
During the Lab Gab special on Monday, June 21st, that featured board member and Executive Chair Brad Oberwager (Oberwolf Linden) and the SL leadership team of Grumpity, Patch and Brett Linden, a “commercial break” was taken to show – I believe for the first time – a complete advertising cut of the video filmed for Second life as a collaborative project between Linden Lab and Levitate Media.
I’ve extracted the video via timestamps and embedded it at the end of this article so it can be seen without the interviews that come on either side of it, and during the show, Brett linden revealed more about it:
The overall project for the video has the internal title at the Lab of The Children of Creation.
The version shown (and embedded below) is one of several cuts of the recorded film, and is specifically geared towards teasing out the ideas of freedom of expression and imagination taking flight, hence the emphasis on flying.
Other cuts of the video (I believe from Brett’s comments) emphasise Second life in other ways, some offering a “considerable amount” of Second Life footage, and a “directors cut” that does not really show the virtual world, but acts as a teaser.
The ad (as seen here) was entered into the 2021 Telly Awards for artistic achievement in video advertising, where it received the following adjudicated awards:
The video is regarded as a “concept ad” and has not as yet been widely deployed as a part of any advertising or other campaign. However, there are plans to discretely test some of the edits (including the “director’s cut”).
You can list to Brett’s comment on the ad below:
From a purely personal perspective, I think the advert as shown works pretty well; the images are well-matched to the narration, and the overall impact is the idea of liberation and freedom of expression. The intercuts of changing avatar appearances particularly underscores this, as do more subtle elements (take the still used as the banner image for this article, for example – the person / avatar flying away from the bright “Hive” sign, alluding to escaping humdrum, unified thinking and moving to new horizons). There is also a good sense of mystery to the ad that present the encouragement to go find out more about what it means
However, I have to caveat this by saying the phrase “if you’re travelling beyond this life” perhaps doesn’t sit as well as it might, given that terms like “beyond this life” are often using in reference to people passing on. This and other phrasing in the video might push uninitiated ears towards thinking the add is about some kind of cult or similar, rather than promoting a digital world; perhaps “beyond this world” might have been a better choice of words.
I’d be curious to learn how well the ad (and variations thereof) sit with assorted audiences, and maybe we’ll find out in time. For now, however, here’s the ad as shown during Lab Gab.
Some might say it’s a long time overdue, but on Friday, September 25th, Linden Lab announced the launch of the official Second Life Merchandise Store offering a range of physical world merchandise related to Second Life and Linden Lab.
The on-line store is hosted by RedBubble, and currently comprises a range of SL and Lab branded clothing items and accessories utilising both the “new” and “old” logos, with the promise that more items t come soon, including seasonal and limited time items.
As with most virtual market stores, the RedBubble Second Life Merchandise Store feature a list of categories down the left side of the page (note: these are a part of the site design, and not all of them may apply specifically to Second Life / Linden Lab). The main part of the site is then devoted to displaying the displaying the essentials on available merchandise, with filter options, and the ability to use at the designs offered with applicable products, rather than the product itself. Obviously, clicking on an individual item will open a page devoted to it, where things like size, etc., can be selected.
A nice aspect of the site is that it appears to automatically recognise your country of origin and presents prices in your local currency. Payments can be made via Credit / Debit card or using PayPal, whilst shipping options are available for “regular” or “faster” delivery. Joining RedBubble allows for faster checkout: your own personal page, a complete order history and tracking option, and the ability to follow favourite merchants on the site (such as Second Life / Linden Lab) and receive notification of new items as they are added to the store.
I’m not entirely sure why the site features a couple of skydivers snogging as its banner image – perhaps this will change according to some site criteria, but it did strike me as something not really immediately representative of either Second Life or Linden Lab – not that either is particularly easier to pigeon-hole in a single image for those unfamiliar with either.
That very minor niggle aside, the store would appear to be a good move – hopefully we’ll see merchandise such as mugs (Lab Gab mugs have oft been requested), coasters, key fobs and other handy items, as well and more clothing items appearing in due course. Actual Linden Bears would be fun as well, if perhaps harder to produce in a cost-effective manner.
In the meantime,those interested / curious can hop over the the official store and have a mooch.
Update, July 12th: this article has been updated to reflect comments made at the July 12th ton hall meeting at which Tilia Inc., and its role with regards to Second Life. A summary of that event, with audio extracts and video will be available in this blog soon.
Update, July 2nd: Linden Lab have started a new forum thread designed to directly address questions. Answers to questions will be placed in the original post in the thread to save having to scroll through question. The new thread can be found here: Official Tilia Q&A Forum Thread.
Update: some 90 minutes after this article was published, Linden Lab issued a further forum post on the subject. Among other clarifications, this further reiterates that L$ purchases, L$ balances, use of L$ to pay tier or Premium fees will all not be affected by these changes.
Also, as clarifications are still being given, some of the wording in this blog post may be revised to match LL’s feedback so as to maintain the accuracy of the information given here. However, do please keep an eye on Lab posts to the forum thread, as additional information, separate to the points I’ve highlighted below may also be given.
On Monday, July 1st, Linden Lab issued a blog post announcing important changes to how Second Life accounts are to be handled with regards to the Lab’s subsidiary, Tilia Inc (which the blog post officially introduces for the first time) and credit processing.
Tilia Inc is a wholly owned subsidiary of Linden Lab, which was established in 2014/15, and focused on payments and the compliance work associated with operating virtual economies. Since its formation, the company has been involved in becoming a registered Money Transmitter throughout the United States, and many SL and Sansar users may have had some awareness of its existence as the Tilia Inc., logo appears on both the SL and Sansar web pages related to L$ account purchases and Sansar account management.
On August 1st, 2019, Tilia Inc., will assume responsibility for managing users’ USD denominated accounts, which will be referred to as their Tilia Account.
Most importantly: users wishing to process a credit – that is, withdraw money from Second Life via their US dollar account – after August 1st, 2019 must be prepared to supply the following information directly to Tilia Inc: name, address, date of birth, and social security number (or government-issued identification for non-US citizen).
Note that if you have previously supplied this information to Linden Lab, you may still have to re-supply it to Tilia Inc.
This information should only need to be supplied once, and will be retained on file by Tilia Inc., (as is currently the case through Second Life at the moment)
Some users may be required to provide additional information to complete a transaction.
Again, only those cashing out of their USD balance are required to meet the ID verification requirements.
These changes should not impact the average time it takes for credit to be processed (around 3-5 working days) for most SL users, once the required identification documentation has been verified.
The fees for inactivity mentioned in the blog post, etc., are still TBD, but again, they only apply in cases where USD have been cashed out, but the account has been dormant (i.e. no cash-out / no logging-in) for 12+ months. They do not affect L$ balances.
These changes do not impact or change the purchase and use of Linden Dollars with Second Life or on the Marketplace. So you do not need to provide personal information in order to buy L$.
Additional information can be found in the Lab’s official Tilia Inc FAQ.
The blog post has already led to a growing forum thread on the matter, which voices some genuine confusion on matters, coupled with no small amount of misunderstanding. This prompted the Lab to add further clarification, and additional replies many be forthcoming from LL over the next day or so to try to address additional concerns / answer further questions. Note that I cannot address specific concerns or answer questions posted to this blog, as I do not represent Linden Lab.
As an aide, I first wrote about Tilia Inc., almost five years ago. At that time, I lot of what I had to say was highly speculative. However, there is now more to say and consider – but to avoid conflating my commentary about Tilia Inc., with news of this announcement, I’ll leave that to a separate blog post.
On November 6th, 2018, Linden Lab issued a statement on their stance on protecting the rights of creators producing content for use on the Second Life platform.
It would seem the statement has been issued as a result over the ongoing debate around the use of UV Maps in mesh heads, following one designer issuing DMCA notices against a number of competing creators – although it is obviously intended to outline Linden Lab’s position on content protection and their process of handling matters as a whole.
To this end, and rather than obfuscate with subjective commentary here, I’m including the entire text of the blog post below, for ease of reference.
At Linden Lab we appreciate and support the creativity of our community – a community based on the very idea that the only limit to your creativity is your imagination. That is why we feel it is important to clarify our stance on and process for the protection of community-created content. Our goal is to nurture the overall creative and competitive ecosystem that enables each member of our community to prosper — even when that means making difficult determinations in disputes between our Creators.
While we cannot comment publicly with a definitive analysis of any one case or dispute, we want to reassure our community that we closely consider all perspectives (and applicable law) before arriving at any dispute determination. When there is disagreement in our community over the integrity of a creation, we strive to be fair in our review of the facts. In particular, we do not take actions for or against any Creator lightly as we know that our Creator community is passionate about and protective of their work.
So, why make this statement now?
Due to the size of the Second Life economy and its user base, there will always be Creator conflicts and complaints under review. Recently, there’s been some debate about one of the more esoteric aspects of content creation, which impacts many in our community. For example, one high-profile complaint under review deals with a fundamental question about whether UV mapping can be considered proprietary and protect-able or part of the public domain.
Linden Lab recognizes that there are passionate arguments to be made on both sides of this and similar discussions. However, the determining factors are quite nuanced and not easily assessed without a closer review of the facts in the context of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (or DMCA).
Ultimately, Linden Lab will always comply with the DMCA process, and continue to determine the validity of each DMCA notice (and any counter-notice) on a case-by-case basis. That is precisely why we have a team dedicated to reviewing all properly submitted IP claims and determining the fairest outcome within the guidelines of the policies and laws governing the process, which is described in the Intellectual Property Infringement Notification Policy.
We are ever-amazed by the ways this community utilizes the Second Life platform for creativity. Keep innovating – you make Second Life even better as we roll out new features and tools to create with — and keep supporting your fellow Creators!
Jason Gholston, who through social media and interviews, had become something of a public “face” for Linden Lab’s Sansar Social VR platform, has left the company for pastures new.
Jason joined the Lab in April 2012, working initially on Second Life before transitioning into the Sansar team as a Director of Product.
While working on Second Life, Jason Led the maintenance engineering team with a focus on customer retention and quality of service, and oversaw the attempts to integrate Oculus Rift with the platform.
On transitioning to work on Sansar, he worked on creating the Unity prototypes used to greenlight the development of Sansar. As Product Manager, he was responsible for management of the monthly releases of Sansar from the engine, rendering, audio, level editor, terrain editor, VR level editor, avatar simulation, and content pipeline teams. He also initially hosted the weekly VR meet-ups with the creator community within Sansar to gather feedback, help troubleshoot issues.
Jason was also responsible for establishing Sansar Studios, the content creation team for Sansar. This team has been responsible for developing a range of experiences on the platform designed to help demonstrate capabilities within the platform and for working with content partners to develop unique experiences.
In leaving the Lab, Jason has moved to work for UK-based Speech Graphics, where he takes up the role of Creative Director, working out of the company’s Bay Area offices. Speech Graphics is one of Linden Lab’s technical partners with Sansar, the platform utilising the company’s technology to provide accurate avatar lip-syncing and facial animations, driven in real-time as users simply speak into the microphones on their HMDs or audio headsets.
On a personal note, I had the pleasure of dealing with Jason on several occasions whilst preparing Sansar articles for this blog, and would like to thank him for his willingness to provide his time and assistance, and for supporting this blog through social media. I wish him every success at Speech Graphics.