The creator of one of the oldest and most iconic virtual worlds returns to his roots. Second Life founder Philip Rosedale will join the company he founded in 1999 as a strategic advisor after High Fidelity, the spatial audio company Rosedale co-founded in 2013, invested in the Second Life developer , LindenLab. The deal includes an unspecified cash investment, relevant patents and certain members of its development team.
“No one has come close to building a virtual world like Second Life,” Rosedale said in a press release. “Big tech offering VR headsets and creating a metaverse on their ad-driven behavior modification platforms isn’t going to create a magical, one-size-fits-all digital utopia for everyone. Second Life has managed to create both a positive experience and rewarding for its residents – with room for millions more to join – and has built a thriving subscription-based business at the same time.Virtual worlds don’t have to be dystopias.
While companies like Meta launch their own visions of the metaverse, Rosedale has remained a vocal critic of some of the dynamics underpinning the current era of online living, from ad-based social networks to the environmental impact of the energy generated by Bitcoin mining operations.
While few Roblox users are old enough to have more than a passing familiarity with Second Life, if that, Rosedale’s virtual social platform has pioneered many concepts that have only very recently come to the fore. under the aegis of the “metaverse”. Second Life explored notions of digital identity, virtual real estate, digital economies, and online multiplayer ecosystems in the early 2000s, when Facebook only existed to connect college students across the world. ‘elite.
Rosedale is already in regular communication with Linden Lab executive chairman Brad Oberwager, according to the company, but will significantly deepen its involvement with the platform’s product plans in the new advisory role. And High Fidelity’s current work remains hugely relevant to Second Life’s second life: a number of social platforms have recently added spatial audio to create more immersive experiences, and some of them, like Clubhouse , allow High Fidelity’s code to make it happen.
“Since Philip launched Second Life in 1999, his visionary approach has not only stood the test of time, but positioned him for the future,” Oberwager said. “He and the High Fidelity team have unrivaled experience and I look forward to capitalizing on the vast opportunity before us.”
With Rosedale back in the fold, it looks like Linden Lab is interested in tapping into that early cast magic. But Second Life still has a long way to go to regain its relevance. Fortnite-maker Epic, Roblox, Meta and a myriad of other big companies are betting big on the near future (or arguably the present, depending on who you ask) of virtual worlds populated by digital identities with endless lucrative virtual goods. . Rosedale’s own perspective isn’t likely to mimic the glimpses of the metaverse some platforms now offer, so it’ll be interesting to see how someone who’s been thinking about these issues for 20 years views the virtual worlds whose companies are suddenly so fond. we all move in.