Friday, June 11, 2010

An Open Letter to M. Linden

Today in my in-box I got an email from M Linden, the CEO of Linden Lab. It's a form letter email thing, seeking to reassure me that Linden Lab still has a lot of money and they're not about to go under, so don't panic. I think the implication here is that I shouldn't abandon my virtual land; I'm not sure who's getting this email, but I'd wager it's land owners and/or Concierge-level accounts, since none of my alts got it.

Just a little context: Linden Lab just laid off 1/3 of its employees, announced it wanted to move towards an all-web-based interface, and released a new alpha-level viewer v.2.1 that has a non-functional LSL editor, WITHIN TWO DAYS. :-)

I want to make my response public. So here it is:

Greetings, M.

I want to address one thing in specific in what you're saying here.

On Thu, Jun 10, 2010 at 7:14 PM, M Linden wrote:


> It is during times like this that partnerships are tested and I – as CEO –
> want you to know that we value our partnership with you and that Second Life
> and Linden Lab are solid. This kind of transition is difficult for any
> company, but it need not be difficult for our customers. Our restructuring
> leaves Linden Lab in a stronger position; Second Life remains the creative
> and inspiring platform it always has been.

I've always said that LL corporate people don't understand their customer. Your statements here make it clear that you do not.

Your customers pay a great deal of money for your product. You have people paying thousands of dollars a month for tier, and small-timers like me who still pay around $125/month. That's US$, btw. I pay that amount of money because I have faith in the product, and that amount of money clearly makes me your customer.

So what you needed to do was to find out who I am (and people like me are), before you laid off 1/3 of the people whose work I'm buying from you. You see, we've been enjoying the benefits of SL despite the policy missteps and technical limitations. That's because we had a good-faith agreement with Linden Lab (in our minds, at least), that things would get incrementally better, even if things were falling apart around us.

You just burned that good faith. No SL resident will believe a word you say ever again. It might be that you really don't care, and that your mission here is to kill SL, or transform the brand into a Facebook app or something. If that's the case, then hire back those fired and start another company. We the Concierge-level customers are paying for the product that you're selling *now.*

Either you have done exactly what you set out to do, which was churn over the old-timers to make way for newbies who will believe the hype, or you have exactly zero idea how to serve the customers that are making you rich. I am not worried that LL might be going bankrupt as evidenced by massive layoffs. I am, however, worried that your vision of a future Second Life has no room for the experience I enjoy already.

If you want to discuss this for real, I will drop what I'm doing, fly to San Francisco and buy you dinner and we can do that. Send the word.