Jun 242010


Mark Kingdon (“M Linden”) Steps Down

by Kalel Venkman

Posted this morning on the Second Life official blog was a message from Philip Rosedale, who returns as CEO of Linden Lab, creator of the popular online MMO called Second Life.  Rosedale is assuming the role of temporary CEO while a new more permanent choice for the position can be found.  Mark Kingdon is stepping down.

Second Life’s 7th Birthday celebration is currently underway in-world.  Kingdon was supposed to deliver a keynote address on Saturday, but failed to appear.  Rosedale filled in for him, repeating his own speech from the same morning and offering, in part, an apology for the lack of performance and responsiveness from the Linden Lab support and development teams.  Rosedale views the recent 30% staff cuts as changes that were unfortunate, but necessary.   In his remarks, Rosedale commented that lack of attentiveness to development and socio-economic issues had been one of Linden Lab’s recent failings and that they were working to correct these issues.

Public reaction to the news of the cuts had resulted in a temporary spike of the dollar against the Linden, seeing the value of the Linden drop to a four year low of about $300L per US dollar.  Linden Lab was quick to buy back enough Lindens to stabilize the in-world economy, noted for being the largest stable virtual economy in the world. Last April  Linden Lab reported their best first quarter in their history, with over $160M in user transactions in-world.

Here are Mr. Rosedale’s comments as posted on the Second Life blog:

Mark Kingdon is going to step down as CEO, and I am going to return as interim CEO, working side-by-side with former CFO Bob Komin, who is being promoted to COO.

This is a big, tough change but one the board of directors and management team deeply believes in.  We owe Mark great thanks for the many things we’ve accomplished in these last two years — most notably a great improvement in the stability of Second Life, and also the hiring and nurturing of a strong team of new leaders who are now ready to do some amazing work together.

Our thinking as a team is that my returning to the CEO job now can bring a product and technology focus that will help rapidly improve Second Life.  We need to simplify and focus our product priorities — concentrating all our capabilities on making Second Life easier to use and better for the core experiences that it is delivering today.  I think that I can be a great help and a strong leader in that process.

It is an honor to have a chance to help more directly again, and I come to this mission with energy, excitement, and an open mind about what we need and how we need to do it.  I want to see Second Life continue to grow, amaze, and change the world.  It’s what gets me up in the morning.  Despite the challenges of such a big change, I am happy to be drafting this blog post while sitting in our San Francisco office, surrounded by the many Lindens who have made it all possible.

More to come, as soon as we all get settled and figure out how best to work together!