Linden Lab, the maker of the virtual world Second Life, announced its new CEO today: Rod Humble, a former Electronic Arts executive. Humble will replace Philip Rosedale, who had been acting as the company's interim CEO.
2010 was hardly a banner year for Second Life, and Linden Lab says it hopes that a new CEO at the helm will bring "fresh perspective, renewed energy, and creativity" to the new year.
Some 30% of Linden Lab were laid off in June, and shortly afterwards, CEO Mark Kingdom stepped down. Rosedale, the creator of Second Life, returned briefly to the head of the company, but the bad news seemed to continue: the closing of the Teen Grid, the elimination of discounted land purchases for schools and non-profits.
Second Life describes itself has "leading 3D virtual world," but virtual worlds have never quite taken off. Second Life does offer an immersive, user-created world and boasts a strong virtual economy, and it still has a devoted user base - over 750,000 unique Residents spent morre than 105 million hours "in world" in the third quarter of this year alone. Nonetheless, Second Life has a notoriously steep learning curve and substantial hardware requirements - perhaps limiting a more widespread adoption.
By selecting Rod Humble to lead the company, Linden Lab has chosen someone who knows popular gaming. Most recently, Humble headed the EA Play label, which includes the best-selling PC game franchise of all time, The Sims. Prior to working at Electronic Arts, Humble served as VP of Product Development for the MMO EverQuest. With a strong background in gaming, it will be interesting to see how Humble's direction shapes Second Life, something that fans often insist is "not a game."