Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Linden Lab Axes Second Life Business Development Team

From Valleywag there is a tipsters report that "Second Life maker swings layoff ax":
A tipster reports that Linden Lab, the maker of virtual world Second Life, is laying off its business-development department, which had cultivated ties with software makers. The move affects "9 or 10" employees," he says. A wise move, if tardy: Don't you need to have a business worth developing before hiring someone in business development?

According to a statement from CEO Mark Kingdon reported at, 4 employees are being laid off; "Linden Lab is profitable, healthy and growing. We've hired 100 people this year and have open positions we are working to fill," Linden CEO Mark Kingdon said in a statement. "We are also increasing our investment in core strategic initiatives related to platform stability, usability and several new product areas. As we've refocused on these core initiatives, we've had to make some hard decisions about resources and as a result we eliminated four positions out of our headcount of nearly 300. We do eliminate positions from time to time, and of course we have some attrition (in the single digits), though historically less than half the industry average."

PG wonders if Chris Collins aka Logan Linden, Director of Enterprise Business Systems at Linden Lab, and one of the most talented overall Lindens is one of the 4 affected employees.

Or if Chris Mahoney, aka Chris Linden, Sr. Business Development Manager is in the cuts;

There is also Jean Miller, Jean Linden, who carries the title Head of German Business Development at Linden Lab

Readers please note that PG has no knowledge that any of these 3 Linden employees are part of the terminated group of Linden Lab's business development team. They are mentioned here because they are some of the few Linden's who publicly carry biz dev titles.

Anyway, that said, none of this surpises PG who saw it coming. See what Christian Renaud, formerly Chief Enterpsise Architect said about about his interaction, or lack thereof with Linden Lab when trying to get the Lab's attention and support for his CISCO-in-SL initiatives. It is unbelievable to hear, but when Renaud was planning and launching amazing ground-breaking initiatives for CISCO in Second Life, there was nary the slightest interest or engagement from the "Business Affairs" Lindens. Here is what Renaud told Mitch Wagner at Information Week about his experience;

"In particular, Linden Lab needs to start paying more attention to its big customers. Prior to founding TIG this year, Renaud headed up Cisco Systems' Second Life effort. They have six islands and 1,000 employees in Second Life. But despite the size of the investment, Renaud said he found it difficult to get support from Linden Lab or find someone to talk to."
What is striking is the Linden that actually managed and ran the department and managed to blow every business dev guy's dream of having 1,000's of Fortune 500, European Enterprise and Asia Pac Business PowerHouses come begging to do business with Linden by not giving them the time of day, VP Ginsu Yoon, seems safe from the cuts, for now at least, as they are at the employee level.

So here is PG's advice to newbie Linden Lab Chairman Philip Linden and newbie CEO M Linden;

1. Keep the talented hardworking Linden Business Affairs/Development employees.

2. Lead them, inspire them and give them much needed focus and direction to retake the initiative with the enterprise sector.

3. Can Yoon - the Linden who, in PG's humble opinion at least, is most responsible for the stagnation and erosion of business development in the first place and for blowing a once-in-a-lifetime Golden Goose business opportunity.

Ok. Now it looks like SL will focus on Educators and Governments having lost Businesses. Interestingly, there was also a recent Linden hire aimed at pursuing the Government sector ala Forterra Inc.:

"Not all that long ago, if you wanted a piece of Second Life Linden Lab would be just about the last organization to deal with you. Linden Lab was all about the platform. If you wanted help setting up shop, or a marketing presence, to the Lab you were no different from any other customer. Those days, apparently, are over. Linden Lab has partnered with Rivers Run Red, and is now in the business of marketing and selling solutions. While a jump in new sales and marketing staff (like European Marketing Director, Clare Rees) are now old news, Linden Lab has a new hire from Washington DC.

That's Scott Sechser, former Operations Manager at the White House. That's the one at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW. Sechser is the new Government Accounts Manager at Linden Lab, which involves the care and feeding of government clients, as well as marketing and sales work to land new government customers. It isn't any stretch to assume that Immersive Workspaces 2.0 is going to be the chef's special on that menu. Sechser's career kicked off in 1995 as an intern for US Senator Larry Pressler, then Field Director for the Bob Dole for President campaign the following year. Then a stint at Aspect media, before spending nearly five years as the Operations Manager at the White House. Finally, Sechser worked in Special Projects for the US Department of Health and Human Services before being hired by Linden Lab last month. All in all, we've seen a profound psychological and philosophical shift at Linden Lab this year, essentially not only reversing their overall hands-off policy, but growing a sales, marketing and account management team that may soon exceed the size of the Linden Lab's core development team at this rate.

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