Encounters of the virtual kind

7 Dec 2008

Stay connected and in the black, says Second Life’s Philip Rosedale.

Identified as one of the model CEOs of the future at the Leaders in London Summit 2008 this week, Philip Rosedale of Second Life shared his thoughts on why he relished such a demanding role. “My overriding passion as a CEO was all about seeing what Second Life can become. I am obsessed with using computers to recreate reality – always have been – and what drives me is my huge curiosity about what would happen if my ideas are successful.”

But the future of this online virtual world in a tougher economic climate, compared to when he first developed it in the heady days of 2003, drew particular interest from the audience.

“The most obvious and effective cost-cutting measure is for people to travel less. Tell your people not to travel to meetings if they don’t have to be there,” Rosedale told the 750-strong audience. With this advice came the perfect opportunity to propose Second Life as an alternative to staying put and watching the pennies. “Why don’t you host your conferences at a meeting point on Second Life?”

Second Life is a virtual world where its users, called residents, can interact with each other through avatars. Residents can explore, socialise, participate in individual and group activities, and create and trade with one another, or travel throughout the world. Built into the client is a simple 3D modelling tool that allows any resident to build virtual objects.

Today, the virtual world boasts over 8.9 million accounts, issues its own currency known as Linden Dollars and has a booming real-estate economy. A small number of residents currently earn net incomes from this economy, selling anything from clothing to islands and castles.

Fuelling his long-existing enthusiasm for his creation, the possibilities that Second Life could uncover for the benefit of the planet, as well as for business, “truly excited” Rosedale. He claimed that in 10 years’ time, the virtual world would outgrow the web to become the standard form of communication and connection. “We are actively working on using electronics and information to move us around, instead of cars and planes. The more connected the world becomes, the better people can work and develop into a powerful force.”

By Linda Gillett

Read the full-length article on businessandleadership.com.