Linden Lab is laying off 30% off its staff according to a press release issued this week. The company behind the virtual world Second Life claims the reduction in staff is due to ‘restructuring’ involving the consolidation of its North Americas development team as well as the ‘reconfiguring’ of its customer support department.
Rumours of the reduction in staff surfaced earlier this week. According to sources the company is closing its enterprise group which served companies with a customised version of Second Life that sits behind an internal firewall, a move that makes sense as Second Life moves from a downloadable client model to a browser-based service. The UK and Singapore offices are now closed while the Linden Lab head count in Seattle has been halved.
Second Life launched on June 23, 2003 and currently has around 900,000 active users. Users are represented by avatars in a world where they can own land, build homes and buy and sell goods with Linden dollars. The virtual world has long grown past a geeky curio with virtual version of companies, universities and even embassies populating the Second Life world. Companies can generate US dollar earnings from services they render in Second Life with some entrepreneurs having grossed in excess of $1m a year.
The user base of Second Life had been dwindling but by estimates the company was valued at up to $700m just a year ago. With plans to implement social media features there may still be plenty of life left in the original virtual world.