Throwing the Rod a Bone

When Rod Humble joined Linden Lab some three years ago, there was a lot of hype, type and snipe going on as to what this would mean for Second Life, what it would do to Linden Lab, and what new monkey wrench he was going to beat us all into submission with. Since his initial days of open communication, periodic sightings and a few stabs at trying to make some positive changes, before long the newest sacrificial lamb to sit in the CEO chair regained his footing along the well-worn path. He went silent, stopped showing up places, stopped being the communicative spirit we had all hoped he would.

And then the crap started happening .. all over the place.

Rather Than Review The Shiznit

I’ve written many more words than I really wanted to write, detailing all the horrendous changes, decisions and hare-brained policies that have IMO taken Linden Lab and Second Life further away from their paths to salvation. If you really must hear me retread them again, follow some of the links in my blog and read my past posts. But be forewarned, you might need to pop an anti-depressant or perhaps down a fifth of your favorite Scotch before you go tripping through memory lane. There are things that have been done in the past three years under Rodvik’s reign that not only fly in the face of Basic Business 101, but are so blatantly stupid as to make you question the sanity of the people running the show over at the Lab.

But today’s post isn’t another shovelful of dirt heaped onto the fresh grave that is the name-plate “Rodvik Linden CEO”. Instead the airing of a thought that came silently tip-toeing up behind me and mugged me before I had a chance to raise my hands in mock self-defense. The idea might best be titled:

Why Rodvik Linden is REALLY Leaving Linden Lab

Of course we all have our reasons, ideas and salacious giggle-inducing theories. But the one I’m on about today not only makes sense in the grander “Humanity” sense of things, but it also might actually serve to buff some polish back onto the tarnished armor that Mr. Humble takes with him as he travels down the road. And honestly, if I’m going to give the man some credit and a somewhat back-handed kudo then obviously my idea is above and beyond all doubt “The Absolute Undeniable and Irrefutable Truth”. (Okay .. catch your breath and stop the hysterical laughing. You’re scaring the neighbor’s Pit Bull.)

Rod’s Goal for Linden Lab

When Rod Humble joined the Linden Lab management team, he did so with a glimmer in his eye and a target goal in mind. He even made several public appearances and statements that not only indicated his intention, but managed to drum up some rather strong opinions on both sides of the aisle. His first year in office was spent getting things in readiness, followed by a second year of actualization. During that second year, he added a few companies and titles to the Lab’s offerings. Each of the additions followed along with the Magical Mantra he had been harping on from the get-go: End-User Created Content.

At The Heart of Second Life

Lots of folks whinge and moan about how the management at Linden Lab “doesn’t get it”. I happen to be one of those that is pretty damn sure that the BoD hasn’t the foggiest notion as to why SL makes money at all. (And I make damn sure to get in my fair share of whinging and moaning about it too.) But I believe Rodvik actually did get that one facet of Second Life .. the facet that says “People use Second Life to create neat stuff and share it with others.” Never mind that “sharing” sometimes means “selling for a profit” and sometimes means “giving mah stuffz away for free”. It’s the creating and sharing that really holds a lot of folks fascinated with Second Life. So when Rodvik added software titles that seemed targeted at that same type of activity, I got a warm fuzzy feeling in my tighties that maybe he’d managed to nail down a concept that would be useful going forward. Bravo for our CEO!

OMFG!! .. WTF!! .. TSFAH!!

But then other stuff started happening at the Lab that took that glimmer of hope and obliterated it so dramatically as to erase any possibility that the Lab was even slightly capable of heading in the right direction. They locked down the JIRA so as to make it absolutely useless as a “Community Tool”. Then, after a few other changes internal to the Lab, they rolled out the latest poison-tipped blowgun dart to the jugular .. the disastrous Terms of Service.

There is a very disturbing common thread to all the major changes wrought by Linden Lab in the past few years. That thread is the systematic and frankly wrong-headed initiative to once and for all kill any sense of community that can be found in SL. Furthermore, the changes in the ToS are directly and incontrovertibly opposite to the incentives and environment necessary to implement Rod’s “Darling Child” project: End-User Created Content. Why on Earth would Rodvik make statements up and down the Internet, spend a bunch of LL’s money to birth his “Darling Child” .. and then drop a very dirty nuclear weapon on the heads of everyone that would be attracted by platforms that let them create their own content?

Ummm .. I don’t think HE did. But I’m pretty damn sure SOMEONE at Linden Lab did.

Every Action …

So what is a person like Rod Humble supposed to do when names higher on the Org Chart start making changes and forcing policies on him and his staff that cut the legs right out from underneath his 3-year project?

I don’t know what Rod would do, but I know what I would do. I’d show the “Higher Names” a quick review of my middle digits, contact my lawyers and have them draft up my separation papers and begin the process to claiming my severance package .. then I’d call the wife and ask her where she’d like to spend the next few months on vacation.

It’s All Conjecture

It’s all just conjecture on my part anyway; I have no pipe to the inner sanctum nor do I have any inkling what sort of BS goes on at Linden Lab BoD meetings. But I do know what BS I have seen from other boards in the past, and looking back across the Lab’s history of behavior beyond and before Mr. Humble joined the team, I can readily believe that the names remaining on the Lab’s Org Chart are among those I NEVER want to put a penny into any venture I might launch in the future.

Rod? If you feel like it, you’re welcome to drop me a note giving me a 0-10 score on this concept. I promise I’ll keep any such contact confidential. But even if I am wildly wrong and you’re leaving just because you got tired of making that drive into town every day ..

Best of luck dude! It’s not an easy market out there for those unable to keep a job longer than 3 years max.

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One Comment on Throwing the Rod a Bone

  1. Boudicca on Sat, 1st Feb 2014 1:15 PM
  2. I’d like to think you’ve put your finger on the reason for Mr.H’s departure.

    Ashis departure coincided with ……….
    A. High Fidelity entering alpha testing stage.
    B.Cloud Party taking it’s leave of the web and its team hiking themselves over to Yahoo.
    ……..sorta made me wonder if any of these events were in any way linked – esp as Mr.H announced he was to start a new operation focused on making “Art, Entertainment and unusual things.”
    Makes ya wonder eh?