Linden Lab

Coordinates: 37°48′00.96″N 122°24′05.65″W / 37.8002667°N 122.4015694°W / 37.8002667; -122.4015694

Linden Research, Inc.
Type of business Private
Founded 1999 in San Francisco, California, United States
Headquarters San Francisco, California
Key people Philip Rosedale, founder
Ebbe Altberg, CEO
Rod Humble, former CEO
Mark D. Kingdon, former CEO
Industry Virtual worlds
Products Virtual worlds
Electronic commerce
Software development
Employees 245  (Q1 2010 350: -30%)[1]
Alexa rank 204,389 (April 2014)[2]

Linden Research, Inc., d/b/a Linden Lab, is a privately held American Internet company that is best known as the creator of Second Life.

Linden Lab Headquarters, San Francisco

The company's head office is in San Francisco, with additional offices in Boston, Seattle, Virginia and Davis, California. Its offices in Mountain View, Brighton, Singapore and Amsterdam were closed in 2010. In addition, the company employs remote workers that communicate and collaborate on projects using Second Life technology.


The company, founded in 1999, employs numerous established high-tech veterans, including former executives from Electronic Arts, eBay, Disney, Adobe, and Apple. The company's founder and original CEO is Philip Rosedale, a former CTO of RealNetworks, one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People in The World in 2007.[3]

In 2008, the company was awarded an Emmy for Second Life in the user-generated content and game modification category. The award was given at the 59th annual Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards.[4] Philip Rosedale, chairman of Linden Lab, accepted the award.

Although Linden Lab's Second Life platform was not the first online virtual world, it has gained a large amount of attention due to its expanding user base and unique policy that allows participants to own the intellectual property rights to the in-world content they create. The company's name comes from Linden Street, where the company was originally based. The company's transition from scrappy upstart to success is detailed in the book The Making of Second Life written by former employee Wagner James Au.

Although many people have assumed that the inspiration for Second Life originated from Rosedale's exposure to Neil Stephenson's novel Snow Crash, he has suggested that his vision of virtual worlds predates that book and that he conducted some early virtual world experiments during his college years at the University of California San Diego, where he studied physics.[5]

Rosedale's strong coding skills eventually resulted in the creation of a video compression technology that would later be acquired by RealNetworks, where he was made CTO at the age of 27. While at RealNetworks, Rosedale's ambition to create a virtual world was resurrected and recharged by technological advances in computing and his attendance at the popular music and arts festival Burning Man.

With the help of a financial windfall that he reaped from his time at RealNetworks, Rosedale formed Linden Lab in 1999. His initial focus was on the development of hardware that would enable computer users to be fully immersed in a 360 degree virtual reality experience. In its earliest form, the company struggled to produce a commercial version of "The Rig," which was realized in prototype form as a clunky steel contraption with several computer monitors that users could wear on their shoulders.[6] That vision soon morphed into the software-based application Linden World, where computer users could participate in task-based games and socialization in a 3D online environment. That effort would eventually transform into the better-known, user-centered Second Life.

During a 2001 meeting with investors, Rosedale noticed that the participants were particularly responsive to the collaborative, creative potential of Second Life. As a result, the initial objective-driven, gaming focus of Second Life was shifted to a more user-created, community-driven experience.[7]

In September 2012, Linden Lab announced two new products: Creatorverse (for iPad) and Patterns (for desktops).[8]

In January 2013, Linden Lab purchased the game Blocksworld for iPad, a shared virtual world built of blocks.[9]

Rod Humble, appointed CEO in December 2010, announced his departure on Facebook on 24 January 2014, stating that he would be leaving Linden Lab to pursue founding a new company that will "make art, entertainment and unusual things!".

In February 2014, Linden Lab announced that its new CEO was Ebbe Altberg, former COO of BranchOut.[10]

In June 2014, Linden Lab confirmed that they plan to build a new virtual world.[11]

As of August 2015, Linden Lab are in beta tests of Project Sansar.

"We want to lower the barrier of entry for VR experience creation ... Project Sansar will do for virtual experiences what WordPress has done for the Web ... "
Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Lab, [12]

Corporate culture

Linden Lab has elicited both compliments and curiosity for its unconventional corporate culture, which is based on a non-hierarchical system where employees are unusually self-directed and transparent in their work. The company makes a strong effort to maintain transparency among its employees and to the general public.

Linden Lab utilizes another internal tool, the Distributor, that enables all employees to distribute "points" to projects that they deem to be worthy of development and resource support. Each point has a financial value that is based on each quarter's financial performance. As a result, key stakeholders in the projects with high point values receive a distributed monetary payoff at the end of the quarter for successfully completed projects. The Distributor was discontinued after Rosedale left the company.[13]

In addition, each employee's quarterly performance review is published on a Wikipedia-like internal website that all other employees may see.[14]

Employees of Linden Lab, who are easily identifiable in-world by their avatars' last name "Linden", have been known to participate in several collaborative events with Second Life users. For example, the company holds an annual holiday "snowball fight" where users are encouraged to throw virtual snowballs at Linden Lab employees.

Acquisitions and restructuring

In May 2007, Linden Lab acquired Windward Mark Interactive, a small game development company based in Waltham, Massachusetts. Windward Mark specialized in atmosphere and cloud simulation, releasing their code as open-source. Linden Lab currently uses the code under the name "Windlight" to enhance atmospheric effects in Second Life.[15]

On January 20, 2009, Linden Lab acquired XstreetSL (formerly known as SLExchange) and OnRez, two web-based marketplaces for Second Life virtual goods.[16] It subsequently closed OnRez and merged XstreetSL with the website, closing its currency exchange service and web forum. On September 10, 2008, the owner of SLExchange renamed the website under threat of Linden Lab enforcing a trademark on the letters "SL". XStreetSL was replaced in late 2010 with the new SecondLife Marketplace.[17]

On January 30, 2010, Linden Lab acquired the avatar profile service Avatars United and its creator, Enemy Unknown AB.[18]

On June 9, 2010, Linden Lab announced a restructuring plan including a 30% reduction in workforce.[1] The plan articulated a new renewed focus on development of browser-based 3D viewer for the Second Life Virtual World. CEO Mark Kingdon, aka "M Linden", stepped down and was replaced by founding CEO Philip Rosedale.

In July 2013, Linden Lab acquired digital distribution service Desura.[19]

It was announced in November 5, 2014 that the Desura distribution service was sold by Linden Lab to Bad Juju Games.[20][21]


In 2006, Pennsylvania lawyer Marc Bragg (“Marc Woebegone” in Second Life) brought a lawsuit against Second Life developer Linden Lab when his account was disabled by Second Life administrators. The case was eventually settled out of court.[22][23]

See also


  1. 1 2 Linden Lab (June 9, 2010). "Linden Lab Restructures to Generate Efficiencies and Support Investment in New Platforms". PRNewswire. Retrieved 2010-06-13.
  2. " Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-04-01.
  3. Vega, Suzanne (May 14, 2007). "The Time 100: Philip Rosedale". Time Magazine. Retrieved 2008-03-02.
  4. BusinessWire (January 8, 2008). "Winners of 59th Technology & Engineering Emmy Awards Announced by National Television Academy at Consumer Electronics Show". Archived from the original on 2008-01-12. Retrieved 2008-03-02.
  5. Dubner, Stephen (December 13, 2007). "Philip Rosedale Answers Your Questions". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-06.
  6. Au, Wagner James. The Making of Second Life, pg. 19. New York: Collins. ISBN 978-0-06-135320-8.
  7. YouTube (November 22, 2006). "The Origin of Second Life and its Relation to Real Life". YouTube. Retrieved 2008-03-06.
  8. Linden Lab (September 18, 2012). "Creatorverse and Patterns". Linden Lab. Retrieved 2012-09-19.
  9. Linden Lab (January 24, 2013). "Linden Lab acquires Blocksworld". Linden Lab. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  10. Linden Lab (February 5, 2014). "Ebbe Altberg Joins Linden Lab as CEO". Linden Lab. Retrieved February 10, 2014.
  11. "BREAKING: Linden Lab Confirms It's Building New Virtual World "Far Beyond What is Possible with Second Life"". New World Notes. June 20, 2014. Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  12. "Linden Lab: Build Worlds with Us". Retrieved June 5, 2016.
  13. Rachel Emma Silverman (April 3, 2012). "My Colleague, My Paymaster". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2012-04-23.
  14. WorldBlu (February 19, 2008). "Lessons Learned and Best Practices from the WorldBlu Council Meeting in SF". WorldBlu. Retrieved 2008-03-06.
  15. "Second Life gets a Bay State boost". The Boston Globe. May 21, 2007.
  16. Linden Lab (January 20, 2009). "Linden Lab Goes Shopping, Buys Virtual Goods Marketplaces to Integrate Web Shopping with Second Life". Linden Lab. Retrieved 2010-06-13.
  17. Apotheus Silverman (September 10, 2008). "SL Exchange to become Xstreet SL". Retrieved 2010-06-13.
  18. Tateru Nino (January 30, 2010). "Linden Lab acquires Avatars United, Enemy Unknown AB". Massively. Retrieved 2010-06-13.
  19. "Second Life maker Linden Lab acquires Desura". Destructoid. July 10, 2013.
  20. "Bad Juju Games Acquires Desura from Linden Lab" (Press release). November 5, 2014. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  21. "Bad Juju Games Acquires Desura from Linden Lab" (Press release). November 5, 2014. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  22. Reuters, Adam (2007-10-04). "Linden Lab settles Bragg lawsuit". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2007-10-08. Retrieved 2012-09-25.
  23. "Virtual Land Lawsuit Reveals Dark Side of 'Second Life' Game" (archive). 9 October 2006. Archived from the original on January 13, 2009.

External links

Bragg v. Linden Lab

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