Second Life Founder Returns and Slams 'Big Tech'
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Second Life Founder Returns and Slams 'Big Tech'

5 months ago

Philip Rosedale has announced that he is returning to the virtual world platform as an advisor — and clearly isn't a fan of Facebook's plans.

Second Life Founder Returns and Slams 'Big Tech'

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Second Life was arguably before its time — and the online virtual world first opened to the masses all the way back in 2003.

Fast forward 18 years, and the metaverse is beginning to gain traction. Adamant that this will play a prominent role in the future, Facebook has even rebranded to Meta.

Now, Second Life's founder Philip Rosedale has announced that he is returning to the company as an advisor — making a cash investment as the platform cultivates "an innovative, inclusive and diverse metaverse where its inhabitants' ingenuity drives real-world value for themselves and others."

Rosedale didn't mince his words in a news release unveiling his return. Declaring that "no one has come close to building a virtual world like Second Life," he added:

"Big Tech giving away VR headsets and building a metaverse on their ad-driven, behavior-modification platforms isn't going to create a magical, single digital utopia for everyone. Second Life has managed to create both a positive, enriching experience for its residents — with room for millions more to join — and built a thriving subscription-based business at the same time. Virtual worlds don’t need to be dystopias."

Second Life also argues that it's in pretty good shape considering its vintage — and has just concluded "one of its strongest years ever."

It claims that annual GDP within its ecosystem hit $650 million — complete with 345 million transactions of virtual goods, real estate and services. More than 8 million unique items are also said to have been sold on its marketplace… a concept that existed long before non-fungible tokens were cool.

One Twitter user reacted to the news by saying:

"Philip Rosedale returning to Linden Labs (breaking news today) definitely reminds me of Steve Jobs in the 90s returning to Apple."

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Second Life's Second Coming

Speaking to Cnet, Rosedale also gave some insights into his plans for Second Life.

The article notes that he's pretty unconvinced about virtual reality in its current form — and argues that VR headsets are "a blindfold to the real world that only some people feel comfortable enough to use."

Although he believes that VR headsets could have an iPhone-esque breakthrough moment, this could be some years away. And given how Second Life still has an estimated 900,000 active users at the time of writing, the platform could have an early advantage when it comes to fixing some of the pain points that exist in the industry.

Rosedale believes that the best approach involves making VR headsets optional until the technology improves — and says one area that "not enough people are looking at" concerns enhancing avatar animations through facial tracking with cameras.

He went on to dismiss the idea of content interoperability, that allows items from one game to be transported to another, as a "total fail" — asking rhetorically:

"Do you want to take a Ferrari from Grand Theft Auto and drive it into Fortnite or Among Us?"

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