I was very disappointed to hear the latest news from Linden Lab(s), maker of Second Life. In various purported internal Linden emails (which look legit to me, knowing their respective styles), Cory Ondrejka is out, apparently by Philip’s hand.
[Note: everything here is speculation, as I haven’t talked to anyone involved, nor do I want to wade into the alleged technical disputes at this juncture.]
Now, I don’t worry for Cory — I figure he’s fully vested and that stock should easily be worth many [non-virtual] millions by this time next year, not to mention the nice severance package I’d expect them to offer — Linden would need to do something to get him to agree not to compete (or say anything) for a year or two at least. And I imagine he’ll either start or be recruited to join a promising small company within milliseconds of hitting the street (but maybe take some time off to be with the kids — you’ve earned it).
But what I worry about is Linden itself. To be upfront, I’m not exactly happy with them lately. It might have something to do with my offering to come back to help solve some of those lingering technical problems everyone complains about, and my subsequently getting snubbed for whatever reason. But it might also have to do with my long-term disappointment in some design decisions they’ve made over the years, decisions that actually kept me from joining the company as an employee in the first place, way back in 2001.
I can safely say that of the decisions I do roundly applaud, most of these came from or were championed by Cory. He’s the kind of leader that anyone would love to work for or with. He listens and understands. And his ego does not extend beyond his skin.
My best guess is that this has more to do with the rumored liquidity event for 2008 than any technical dispute. I expect that Linden will soon bring in a CTO with a Wall St. pedigree, if they haven’t lined that up already, or Philip will take over the CTO role and bring in a shiny new CEO to guide the sale or offering (not that Philip isn’t capable of doing either role, but to investors, money is money and more is more).