Brad Oberwager and the Leadership Team At SL18B


Brad Oberwager appeared on the special SL18B episode of Lab Gab along with the Leadership Team on Monday 21st June 2021. This was the first time that Brad Oberwager (Oberwolf Linden) talked directly the the Second Life community. I thought it was a great show generally speaking and it was nice to hear about Brad’s plans for the future of Second Life. It was good to hear that Brad has gone in-world with his Oberwolf Linden account at least a few times and he does have alt accounts. Brad alt accounts were not revealed during this episode.

Brad is the Executive Chairman at Linden Lab and is one of the three investors (J. Randy Waterfield and Raj Date) who acquired Linden Lab during mid 2020. Brad is taking basically a “four pillars” approach in terms of decision making from what is going to bring in new users?, what is going to make existing uses happier?, what will lead to more engagement? and what is going to offer Linden employees to be happier?. This is a interesting road to go down and hopefully will lead to Second Life becoming even more popular in the months and years ahead. Brad mentioned during the show that the long term success of Second Life will be through feedback like in the new user experience and growing the Second Life user base.

Patch Linden, Grumpity Linden and Brett Linden deal with the product decisions at the lab which are supported by the senior management team including Brad and his team. Apparently Linden Research is now owned by LLC company formed by Brad Oberwager and Randy Waterfield. He mentioned that Tilia was not in competition with Second Life and still has a future.

Brad did mention that he doesn’t expect to see change for change sake for Second Life in the short term however change will come over time. I just hope these future changes will be good ones for the Second Life community.

I hope that Brad and the leadership team will continue to invest in the Second Life platform and carry on the success that Ebbe Altberg managed to achieve over recent years. If the Second Life user base grows larger and the overall user experience improves within the next year or so that would be nice. I do think Second Life needs to be more in the press more along with more improvements being made. The Second Life economy is still going strong and hopefully that will continue.

This is a good start I think and it’s nice to hear Brad passion/energy for Second Life. He wants everyone moving towards a sense of joy and not fear.

  • Stay Safe – Stay Virtual

Patch Linden At VWBPE 2021 – Above The Book: What’s up at the Lab?


Patch Linden VP of Product Operations talked with Phelan Corrimal (VWBPE Director; Rockcliffe University Consortium) at VWBPE 2021 this afternoon for almost a hour about what’s new at Linden Lab along with education and non-profit organizations in Second Life. This is the first of three reconnaissance sessions with Linden Lab at VWBPE 2021. Yay! 🙂

I thought it was a interesting and informative interview on things like mega regions, the impact of the pandemic to whats next for the new owners taking Second Life forward. There was no Q&A session at the end or any mention of Ebbe Linden (CEO of Linden Lab). There was no mention of Linden Homes, Premium Plus or the latest on Second Life mobile development.

The attendance for this session was reasonable (average levels) I think. I’m sure its been higher in previous years.

Here is a brief below from what Patch Linden talked about during the session via the live transcript…

The New Owners

  • The team is comprised of Randy Waterfield, Brad Oberwager, and Raj Date which forms the board at the lab
  • The transition from the former owners to the new owners actually went very smoothly
  • Patch Linden primarily works with Brad as he’s the owner.
  • Brad has one mission: to be the best and biggest virual world there can be
  • Brad wants to grow and invest in Second Life and he genuinely loves the product
  • Randy owns an investment firm
  • Brad sits in the middle and balances both / they see Tilia as a business
  • Tilia is what allows Second Life to continue to exist
  • Second Life is the primary focus & there is a separate team that focus on Tilia

Immediate Priorities Over Next 12 Months Or So

  • The lab want to increase the Second Life population as that’s Brad’s goal
  • The team wants to finish up with the AWS work
  • There are some product enhancements that will come out of that
  • User experience is key especially the onboarding experience
  • That’s the 12 month high level road map

Gateways

  • The lab are refactoring the new onboarding process and there is a lot of work going on
  • There are viewer changes that will smooth out the bumps we’ve identified over the years
  • The lab have been doing A/B testing to figure out what path needs to look like
  • New UIs and refreshed looks will benefit everyone

New User Experience Accessibility

  • Grumpity Linden keeps her eyes on improving accessibility along with improving the UI
  • The lab don’t plan on adding text-to-speech immediately

Goals Upcoming

  • The goal for growth is double the resident population over the next 3-5 years
  • The goals are realistic as the lab has seen this over the past year
  • Both educators and businesses have switched from in-person to hybrid solutions

Team Grid Reintroduction / K-12 Educational Groups

  • The lab have educational groups operating in that space particularly through educational partners
  • AWS work will help open more doors
  • Probably at the end of the year the lab there could be geographically aided opportunities. That will open the doors to private grids.

The Pandemic Experience During The Past Year

  • The new user experience needing significant work between people coming back but not for personal reasons
  • It’s more important to smooth the experience in the post-pandemic world and give it some love
  • People’s usage habits have changed over time and they’re different for business and education

Private Labeling / White Labeling

  • The lab have had clients say they’d like the lab to remove half the features of the viewer and some want more
  • Open Chat Range – that came from taking a request from events in general – to increase the density of avatars at one time
  • Teen Grid had its own search which was the same as the main grid and it was all separate

Next 12 months – Educators / Non-Profits

  • Geographic location stuff
  • The user experience improvements will make things easier
  • To leverage AWS

Mega Regions & Cost

  • The lab are not looking to increase cost / should remain the status quo
  • If AWS lets the lab get into new region models then maybe mega regions, maybe light regions not within the next 12 months
  • Middle cost alternative maybe / the option to have more avatar density within regions / the lab are looking into it
  • On demand situations where people can upgrade from homestead to full to allow them to host a big event

The Competition

  • Patch mentioned that he likes competition as it helps foster innovation and it drives you to stay motivated. Patch always keeps an eye out on the competitors and what they’re doing
  • There are alot of features that the lab has where others are catching up to and they have new features that can be interesting to adapt like the economy. Patch is not seeing a direct competitor to Second Life as far as flexibility. Things like max attachments, prims in region etc. The lab already has a direct building tool in-world.

Opportunities To Experiment

  • There is no particular group of folks as the lab all go out to try new platforms and learn about them
  • Those that observe platforms come back and bring feedback
  • As a business you have to see whether something new is worth to keep if its not at the best usability/performance. The lab need to study the performance and bandwidth
  • Sometimes it tilts towards no and we have to withdraw it because it would impact negatively on user experience

Oz Linden Retired

  • Patch said that Oz retired and he was a great colleague. He left a chasm and the lab are glad for him
  • When the lab recruits its posted on the website / internal recruiters

New Ownership Structure

  • Patch knows the ownership is on everyone’s mind and they have a great energy / super enthusiastic / they want to grow Second Life and the educational communities as well
  • Brad always asks Patch how will it benefit the residents and how will it benefit Second Life ?

Stay updated on the latest happenings at VWBPE 2021 here.

Three New Board Directors Added To About Linden Lab Page


The About Linden Lab page has been updated this week unveiling three new board directors. These include Brad Oberwager, J. Randall (Randy) Waterfield and Raj Date. 

The lab have said that everything is carrying on as business as usual. There is no cause for alarm yet.

SecondLife is now listed as part of the Waterfield Network which is worth mentioning I think. Check out the biography for each of the new board directors at Linden Lab below…

BRAD OBERWAGER

Brad Oberwager has spent his entire career in technology and consumer focused companies as an entrepreneur and board member.

Currently, he sits on the board of two public companies, Asure Software (NASDAQ: ASUR) and Better World (NASDAQ: BWACU). He is the chairman of two companies he founded, Jyve and Sundia and is also on the board of TEGSCO (aka AutoReturn). He owned Bare Snacks, acquired by PepsiCo in 2018.

Brad was Vice-chair of YPO International, a global organization of 25,000 CEOs.

Brad received his BS from Georgetown University, his MBA from the Wharton School and lives in San Francisco. 

 

J. RANDALL (RANDY) WATERFIELD

Mr. J. Randall (Randy) Waterfield, is the Chairman of Waterfield Holdings, which traces its origins to 1928. After selling the largest private mortgage company in the US and largest Indiana based bank in 2006 and 2007 respectively, he diversified into technology, manufacturing and other industries.

Randy holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation and is a graduate of Harvard University. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Red Oak Partners, Waterfield Technologies, Linden Research, Inc. and has previously served on the boards of YPO (and was the 2017-2018 Chairman of YPO), Asure Software ( NASDAQ: ASUR), SMTC Corporation (NASDAQ: SMTX), RF Industries (NASDAQ: RFIL), among others. He is also the Co-Chairman of Missouri Cobalt, LLC, the largest cobalt mine in North America.

Randy supports various education, environmental and community development charitable causes through the nonprofit Waterfield Foundation and J. Randall Waterfield Foundation.

 

RAJ DATE

Raj Date was the first-ever Deputy Director of the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). As the Bureau’s second-ranking official, he helped steward the CFPB’s strategy, its operations, and its policy agenda. He also served on the senior staff committee of the Financial Stability Oversight Council, and as a statutory deputy to the FDIC Board.

Before being appointed Deputy Director, Raj acted as the interim leader of the new agency, serving as the Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury. He led the CFPB for most of the first six months after its launch.

Currently, Raj is the Managing Partner of Fenway Summer, an advisory and investment firm focused on financial services and financial technology. In that capacity, he chairs the investment committee of Fenway Summer Ventures, a fintech venture capital fund, and works with clients of FS Vector, the fintech advisory firm. He also serves as a Director for a number of innovative firms in financial services: Prosper, the marketplace lender; Green Dot, the bank holding company; Circle, the digital asset firm; Grasshopper, a de novo bank; and College Ave, a private student lender.

He is a graduate of the College of Engineering at the University of California at Berkeley (highest honors) and the Harvard Law School (magna cum laude).

What are your views on the latest announcement and the change on the Linden Lab about page ? 

Linden Lab Is Now Under New Ownership


On Tuesday 5th January Linden Lab officially announced that the regulatory review has been completed. This means that Linden Lab is now is under new ownership. Things are “business as usual” apparently and I think many will be wondering what will happen next. Hopefully there will be more news throughout 2021 into 2022. 

It’s good the lab have finally updated everyone after months of waiting for any news about the acquisition. 

Here is the confirmation via the blog post about the review completion. 

Another noteworthy development for the new year is that Linden Lab has new owners!

As announced in mid-2020, an investment group led by Randy Waterfield and Brad Oberwager signed an agreement to acquire the company subject to regulatory approval by financial regulators in the U.S. related to Tilia Inc.’s status as a licensed money transmitter as well as other customary closing conditions. We are pleased to share that the regulatory review has been completed and Linden Lab is now under new ownership. 

While the owners may be new, things are “business as usual” in Second Life. Last year saw strong growth for our virtual world and, as a result of this acquisition we expect even more resources in 2021 to further improve and grow Second Life in the future. 

 

Uplift Update 

Linden Lab mentioned in the blog post that the migration of Second Life to the cloud is now complete. Apparently “All the interconnected services and databases that collectively provide you with Second Life have been migrated to Amazon’s cloud servers”.

The uplift will bring better simulator performance and improve the ability to diagnose problems. The lab will be able to scale their system for more improvements and future growth. 

The lab showed a photo in the blog post which is the former cage at the lab facility which has hosted servers since 2009. It’s been cleaned out and is completely empty. Most of the old hardware has been scrapped. All of the drives have been destroyed. 

Hopefully things will get better during 2021 with better performance and improvements. Let’s hope the Uplift was worth it. 

Linden Lab acquisition deal “will take some time due to regulatory process.”


On Tuesday 19th July I asked Ebbe Altberg CEO of Linden Lab on Twitter on when we will hear more from Randy Waterfield and Brad Oberwager on the Linden Lab acquisition. I asked if there is a town hall event or a lab gab event planned.

Ebbe Altberg kindly responded back on Tuesday evening saying this “Hold on everybody. The deal first has to close. Will take some time due to regulatory process. Sit back. Wait. Relax. All is well“.

As it stands the deal isn’t done yet and it will take some time due to the regulatory process. This could mean it could be some months until we next hear anything more official. I’m probably thinking before the end of the summer.

On July 9, 2020, Linden Lab announced “[…][that] it signed an agreement to be acquired by an investment group led by Randy Waterfield and Brad Oberwager. Closing of the acquisition issubject to regulatory approval by financial regulators in the U.S. related to Tilia Inc.’s status as a licensed money transmitter as well as other customary closing conditions. Upon closing, Mr. Waterfield and Mr. Oberwager will join the Board of Directors of Linden Research, Inc.[23][24][25]

Once the process is complete then I think Randy Waterfield and Brad Oberwager should come inworld and chat live to the Second Life community. Either by the lab hosting a special town hall meeting or through the successful popular lab gab series. Maybe a special blog announcement would work too.

Don’t forget this is an opportunity to continue growth and expansion for Second Life along with the money services business Tilia. I hope this is the case for positive change and not something in 3 – 5 years which will be a disaster for everyone. As usual time will be the judge. Whatever happens I will be blogging about it.

If this acquisition fails or if Second Life did have to shut down later down the road then you can expect a massive move towards OpenSim grids. I don’t think anyone wants this to happen. Second Life is best virtual world out there today.

It will be nice to hear something more official sooner than later. In the mean time everyone needs to relax and wait. Enjoy the summer.

Ebbe Altberg And Brett Linden Responds To Company’s Acquisition


Since the announcement last week about Linden Research, Inc being acquired by the investment group led by Randy Waterfield and Brad Oberwager there has been some responses from Linden Lab. On the Second Life Forums there has been mixed responses about it. Ebbe Altberg has been responding on Twitter over the weekend and Brett Linden responding back on the Second Life Forums. 

Most Second Life residents are still worried and concerned about the future of Second Life. It’s clear from the lab responses that the specific details about the deal won’t be announced just yet. There is talk now of one or both of the investors being featured on a future Lab Gab episode or a townhall meeting. I think this is a good idea and I hope the lab will host it before the end of the year. 

I think the main message from Linden Lab right now is that these two investors have a great deal of awareness of what Second Life is and they are excited to help Second Life/Tilia grow. I don’t think there will be any major changes in terms of the end user before the end of 2020 and it will probably continue as normal. 

To be honest time will tell. Let’s wait and see what happens next. 

Ebbe Altberg Responses 

To early to speculate. But Tilia is signing up and onboarding more and more customers. Its a unique and very relevant service.

No plan for drainage here. Great to remain independent. Everybody motivated to build and grow.

We’re remaining independent. Not getting mangled into some Borg

Uh, that’s not what any motivated operator of a profitable business world do. That would be like throwing away money for no reason. We’re excited.

 

Nobody has any interest in hampering SL. We all want it to grow and continue to be the wonderful world it is. We’re very happy with this path. Can’t say much until deal is closed.

 

That would be a horrible way to run a business. We’re not partnering with idiots here.

Brett Linden Responses

Good day, all!

Just jumping in to respond to a few of the comments…

A few folks are speculating that this is the end of SL and nothing could be further from the truth. Any talk of dismantling or radically changing the fundamentals of SL that we know and love is inaccurate. While we can’t get into specific details about the deal itself, I want to emphasize the fact that this keeps Linden Lab as an independent venture led by two investors who have a great deal of awareness about what SL is and isn’t. They are excited to join and help us grow both SL and Tilia while also respecting and recognizing the needs and sensitivities of the existing culture and community. 

Great question! We look forward to sharing more information as soon as possible, and I know that Brad is looking forward to meeting the community as we near the completion / approval deadline

This is a great idea. I can’t make commitments on dates because there is still a long process of reviewing the regulations, but we will discuss internally as this seems to be a” no brainer “and I think that most of the community is interested in what they have to say. I could imagine that we will attract one or both investors to “Lab Gab” or some other form of town hall meeting. 

Grumpity Linden Response

In all seriousness — this really really is a good thing. We’re excited for the opportunities it presents and we’re rock solid sure of the bright future of SL. And with that… NFC

We’re really not able to comment very much in terms of details for now, but we are quite earnest in the Press Release

I will post more when new information becomes available.