Survey of Developers in the Second Life Developer Directory, June 2007

Summary
In June, 2007, a survey was sent to the 190 companies and individuals currently listed in the Developer Directory. Fifty five of (29%) Developers completed the survey (32 of 90, or 36%, responded in February). Since we don’t track any identifying information, comparison with prior surveys may not be comparing the same set of developers. Question wording has also changed, so the responses are not always exactly comparable.

While not requested in the survey, based on location information in the Directory, distribution of Developers is as follows:
47% of Developers are in the US. 14% are in the UK, 7% are in Germany, 6% in the Netherlands, 5% in Canada and >2% each in Australia, Spain, Italy and France. By region, 54% are in North America, 1% in South America, 41% in Europe and 5% in Asia.

Key Results
* Employees† have increased – the total is now about 3000, up from 1500 in Feb. and 500 in November. Most of these employees have come from Second Life.
* The Developer community is approximately a $70M business this year.
* Total projects (300) and revenue ($5M) have decreased slightly since February; whether this is seasonal, a sampling fluctuation or real, is unknown.
* The majority of companies are still small – the median is 6 employees and $80K revenue**; 2/3 have 10 or fewer employees and an average revenue of $50K.
* Average revenue per project is $11K. Total revenue is highly correlated with number of projects.
* Most of the Developers are earning revenue in the hobby range: average revenue** per employee is $33K, the median is $9K, and the 1/3 with the lowest revenue per employee average $1400 per employee.
* Developers would like more regular communication directly from Linden Lab (Questions 7-9).

1) Employees/contractors
…………………..Jun 07…Feb 07..Nov 06
……..Total:………..933……559…..224
……..Average:……..17……..19……..8
……..Median:………..6……….5……..5
(Wording of this question has changed with each survey, but basically asks how many people work for the Developer.) 3 companies listed 100 or more (compared to 1 company in Feb) and 16 (29%) had more than 20 employees. However, the majority of companies are small.

2) Employees in a different country than your main office
…………………..Jun 07……….Feb 07
……..Total:……..365 (39%)……..134 (24%)
……..Average:……..6…………………..4
……..Median:……….2………………….0
41 companies of the 55 (75%, up from 47% in Feb) responding have employees in another country. The number of employees outside the main country has increased significantly.

3) Where do you recruit employees?
……………………………………Jun 07……..Feb 07
……..Mostly Second Life:……..53%……..41%
……..Mostly real life:……………..*………19%
……..Both:…………………………………….41%
* Other recruiting sources: Meetings & conferences, 15%; Online, 26%; Agencies/recruiters, 6%.
The major source of employees for Developers is SL, and that has increased since February.

4) Projects in the current pipeline
………………..Jun 07….Feb 07….Nov 06
……..Total:……..307……..380……..148
……..Average:……6……….12…………5
……..Median:……..3………..4…………4
While other measures are up significantly, number of projects is not. In general, larger companies (by employees) have more projects, but there is less correlation than in February.

5) What is your estimated revenue (in US$) from Second Life projects for this quarter?
………………………Jun 07……….Feb 07……..Nov 06
……..Total:……5,034,000……6,700,000…..2,236,000
……..Average:……98,700……..161,500……….80,000
……..Median:……..20,000………31,500……….18,000
Four companies did not answer, and one entered zero. While the question asks for quarterly revenue, for analysis, it was converted to annual revenue.

The average annual revenue** for the lowest third is $10,000; for the highest third it’s $1.1M. Eight companies expect more than $400,000 in annual revenue, but 17 expect less than $40,000. The median is 6 employees and $80K annual revenue; almost 1/3 have 3 or fewer employees and less than $30K in annual revenue, and 2/3 have 10 or fewer employees and less than $160K in annual revenue (average annual revenue=$50K).

Average revenue per project is $11K. Revenue is highly correlated with number of projects; for the companies with the top 1/3 most projects, average annual revenue** is $1M; for the other 2/3, the average revenue is $110K, 1/10 as much. Interestingly, the 1/3 companies with the most revenue have an average of 8 projects, while the 2/3 with lower revenue have an average of 4 projects.

Average annual revenue** per employee is $33K, but the median is only $9000. The average of the 1/3 with most revenue per employee is $84K; for the lowest 1/3, it’s $1400.

6) How many regions did you purchase in the month indicated?
………………..May 07…Jan 07
……..Total:……….56……..38
……..Average:…….1………1
……..Median:……..0………0
As we found in January, most developers don’t purchase islands, they work on islands owned by others – 67% of developers purchased zero, and 28% purchased 1 or 2; only 2 developers purchased more than 2 islands (one purchased 4 and one, 30).

†Employees is used in the broadest sense of people who work for or with the company; the question wording this survey was “How many people work with you/your company on a regular basis? (Please count contractors, associates, and others who work for you part or full time.)”

** Annual revenue is estimated from 4*quarterly revenue for Q2 provided in the survey.

About glennlinden

Manage the Developer Program and other marketing programs for Linden Lab. Previously at Tellme, Openwave and Apple.
This entry was posted in -Miscellaneous, Marketing. Bookmark the permalink.

36 Responses to Survey of Developers in the Second Life Developer Directory, June 2007

  1. Astro says:

    Aah, neat data. It’s always refreshing to see some businesses thriving in SL.

  2. how about fixing all the bugs & less worrying about surveys. let’s do a survey on how many are quitting SL each day cause of all the bugs. lets do more useful work on that lab. does anyone care in January islands got purchased less. gee whiz lets take a survey to see if in February pizza’s were purchased less.

    seems like the LL is doing more 7 more useless stuff that actually fixing SL.

  3. Jason says:

    Don’t I remember an open letter to LL being sent saying they were unhappy with LL because they were more focused on other things than bugs, griefers, and such?

  4. NewYorkCityDJ says:

    hhmm secondlife whats not funny when some of these bugs come from a web site that sells anti virurs and spyware protector..!

  5. Buckaroo Mu says:

    Yeah, cause you really, REALLY want Marketing people working on CODING.

    Shut up and post something on-topic.

  6. Alex Harbinger says:

    Awesome data! ^.^

    To #2 – Buckaroo Mu says it all (#4). Not everybody is able to fix bugs; In fact, if you let people that don’t know how to code try to fix SL’s current bugs, you’d either 1) End up with way more bugs, or 2) End up with a whole bunch of bored employees =-P

    I like the fact that even with Linden Lab being so busy, they manage to make time to inform us on how the residents of SL are coping ^.^

  7. Mmmyes Oh says:

    Thank you Buckaroo. I joked to myself when I read that post that some complete idiot would come in here and start spouting off with a “fix the bugs first” post. I was amazed when someone did.

    “I heard that the cleaners at LL polished the faucets yesterday. FIX BUGS FIRST!!”

  8. Breeze Winnfield says:

    While i have never been asked to participate in a survey, i’ll take this opportunity to do so. Question: do you care at all about what the land barons of SL are doing, in any way shape or form? Answer: Not one little bit.

  9. Tegg B says:

    @2 Good One! While you have the marketing department fixing bugs, lets get the cleaners writing Havoc 3 patches too…..

    @5 I care, there go a 50% survey result.
    “Any way shape or form” means well anything, they can rip off, grief you, use hacked clients to rip off your inventory or orbit you anytime they like and you don’t care 😛

  10. HexxKitten says:

    how about actually doing something about those developers who steal from you, texture grab from you and then say ‘Linden will NEVER punish me cos I am a developer and you are nobody’

    and you know I reported it and you did NOTHING guess she was right eh?

    do they not have to abide by the same tos?

  11. JOHN S BROWN AKA ROXYSAMANTHA BOUCHER says:

    yeawhy dont you survay pepole who just live here and dont own land we woukld like to emjoy it also not just be posed around by corparations and land qwners i know pesonally at least 100 pepole who hate s/l because of all the bugs i would nevefr buy land in sl/ id sooner buy land in a swamp than s/l better chance of actually using it really folks what is your problem Lindens YOU ONLY CARE ABPUT LAND PWNERS AND RICH PEPOLE THE HELL WITH THE COMMPN PERSON YEA UI KNOW THE TRASHCAN FOR THIS TRESPONSE IT FIGURES YOU WONT PUBLISH IT CAUSE YOUCANT HANDLE THE TRUTH HORRAY FOR THE RICH AND TO HECK WITH THE COMMON MAN JUST LIKE THE REAKL WORLD WELL YA DONT CARE ABOUT ME I DONT CARE AQBOUT YOU SO IM SERIOULY CONCEDREING GIVING THIS S/L THING UP ITS BEGINNING TO BE WORSE THAN REAL WORLD PROBLEMS PERSONALY THTHE WHOLE CONCEPT IS GOOD BUT THE BUGS YOYU OBVIOUS LACK OF INTREST AND THE LAND BARRONS MAKE IT SUCK CAME HERE TO BE HAPPY BUT I AM GREATLY DIDAPONTED SO ILL PROBIBLY JOIN MY OUTHER FREINDS IN ACTIVE LIFE AT LEAST THEY CARE AND ADRESS PROBLEMS NOT JUST MAKE EXCUSESES ANPERSONAL E MAIL; ON YOUR POSITION ABOUT MY COMMENT WOULD BERE NICE BUT YEA THATS NOT GOING TO HAPPEN EATHER CAUSE IAM THE COMMON MAN BET YOU WOULD E NMAIL ME IF I WAS PAYING A THOUSAND A MONTH LUIKE THE STUPID LAND OWNERS THAT OWN SWAMPLAND AND AD FARMS

  12. SL needs income, bugs will never be fixed unless there is someone to deal with them and they have the skills needed. That probably means paying for effort, SL isnt a charity, even if it was, it would need income.

    Knowing where and who, can do what, is important. The future needs planning.

    Creating rules and consequences doesnt stop wrong doers in real life, it will not in SecondLife, since how SL functions at all is decided by the same real life rules and consequences.

    Knowing that one can source developers to address functions in SL is a vital part of SL.

    I dont condone bugs, they irritate me as much as anyone, ive no personal satisfaction from either seeing what goes on illegally, being the target, or waiting for cures.

    I do know that successfull business constantly has to assess customers and competitors to remain a success.

    SL could just have not posted this topic, and i wouldnt have been any wiser.. i am glad they are as open and communative as this, at least, and are trying to cover all eventualities.

    no one is perfect… nothing is..

  13. U M says:

    Look how the number ae not really telling the story. Look how the butch the locations Some NAMED counties and some general locations. Hence Its BS.

  14. Diricial Dagger says:

    @ #9:

    I’m sorry, perhaps you should re-read the paragraph you are saying is BS. You might notice that you are confusing two different statistics. They aren’t trying to compare developers by county as opposed to developers by region. It’s the same statistics, stated in two different ways because you can gather something different from them.

    Seeing the numbers by country makes it look like the United States vastly outweighs anywhere else for number of developers, when one compares individual countries. However, when one widens the scope and looks at *the same numbers* by region instead, to become obvious that the numbers are more equitable between N. America and Europe, and that th disparity likely has more to do with the differing population sized of the US vs the individual countries of Europe, and not some giant lack of developers there.

    Reading comprehension is a useful skill. Please take a little more time to understand what your eyes are seeing, rather than jumping to conclusions that their information is invalid.

  15. Tijn Erde says:

    Semi off-topic:

    Please remove the AJAX check from the Developers Directory. Just like with Flash checks, AJAX and Flash actually work fine, but some firewalls just block the checks.

    It’s incredibly annoying knowing that I’d be able to watch the site if only the AJAX check would allow me to continue anyway.

  16. Willowhouse Richez says:

    Information of this sort is like any other. To some it will be useful. To others it is seems irrelevant. The SL business model is unique and telling. Good thing Lindens have their eye on the money so they can feed their own families and fix the bugs at the same time. As this business networking system allows us to PLAY hard, we find opportunities for business without playing hardball, so often. Yay.

  17. Jazzman Jibilla says:

    Interesting data LL. Thanks, it will be very interesting when the survey is more standardized and you’ve got a few more under your belt.
    To the off-topic whiners 😛 Phhhttt.

  18. PK Otoole says:

    After a surge of projects posted at My Second Life Project in April and May, we noticed a slow down of project postings in June. Now, in early/mid July the number of Second Life projects posted are increasing once again. It would be interesting to know if the onset of summer and the nice weather distracted people from Second Life. Perhaps now since most of the US is an oven, people are back indoors and back at it again.

  19. Montana Corleone says:

    @1, 5, 6, 7 and 16. Well it is kind of on topic. Once again while Linden ra-ras on, the numbers tell a different story. Shot themselves in the foot again.

    It clearly shows number of projects are DOWN by 21%, estimated revenue is DOWN by 25%, while employees have doubled, earning much less each. Revenue down, overheads up. Hardly thriving.

    In any case, estimated revenue is not the same as real revenue, so I expect that to be less. And changing the wording all the time makes it difficult for accurate comparison.

    So the numbers are dropping, mirroring the drop in new users, who are leaving at an ever increasing rate. Just maybe, that’s because they are cheesed off with the bugs, the lag all getting worse as a previous blog showed, and while getting ripped off at the same time because there are no rules. Pretty much what the Open Letter was saying, if you’d all care to reread it.

    No, I wouldn’t expect cleaners and marketers to code. But what’s the point of marketing a flawed product? Sack them all and spend the money on coders who CAN track down and fix the ever increasing bugs that are being introduced by the addition of the shinies most people don’t want, and not prima donnas.

    And cleaning the toilets and polishing the taps? Well let the Lindens do it themselves, on a rota basis. That’s a very hippy commune type of thing. 🙂

  20. Tillie Ariantho says:

    @17 maybe it is just more competition now? and money is split between more people? And what about all the developing people that are not in the developers list? I develop stuff too, and I am not in the list. And I got some money too. Even if it is not much (yet) though. .P

  21. U M says:

    @17 well the have the MIT team doing their thing. But really is it helping? it appears not, its bad enought they have some Linden thats not getting pay doing some of the coding, and this is the result! The need for first class coders are the main focus point here. Not freebie coders taht have nothing really to gain but trying to look good. The SL client is not a play toy for those that dont know what the hell they are doing. But insteed it should be treated with care. I say fire the coders that are not doing their share, by measuring the failures and then lay them off! This joke must stop!

  22. U M says:

    “While not requested in the survey, based on location information in the Directory, distribution of Developers is as follows:
    47% of Developers are in the US. 14% are in the UK, 7% are in Germany, 6% in the Netherlands, 5% in Canada and >2% each in Australia, Spain, Italy and France. By region, 54% are in North America, 1% in South America, 41% in Europe and 5% in Asia.”

    May I ask some real vaules here instead of general location? “By region, 54% are in North America, 1% in South America, 41% in Europe and 5% in Asia.”

    This stat does not make sence? Like “South America, 41% in Europe and 5% in Asia.”

    This is too general

  23. U M says:

    “1% in South America, 41% in Europe and 5% in Asia.”
    Again i see some vaules in the said stats, but its need more clearifing.

  24. Blain says:

    The SL economy is run by the residual income of sim owners. The stores that sell all the stuff and the clubs that people “game” at pay for the land. Now that the prices have fallen so much there is no longer the “big income” in SL. Except for “gaming” and “clubs”.

  25. Sean MArsi says:

    @11 English please? And though there are some leaving SL many more people come in their place, the population count is almost at 8 million and rising.

    @Everyone complaining about bugs Have you not realized that LL is trying to do more about them? The bug Triage meetings? I believe they’re doing what they can. Stop harrassing them. Some of the bugs some of you people mention are the faults of your own damn hardware. There are so many complaining about lag when they’re trying to run SL on a 5 year old piece of crap!

  26. LifeFactory Writer says:

    I’m new, and therefore should probably should not be responding here at all, but will do so anyway.

    I am a little surprised at how much general grief from residents I hear about the Lab. Naturally LL is interested in developers…they are the one’s with the revenue and large projects who can keep this whole thing afloat and growing– not the millions of non-paying users.

    And with a system that is growing so incredibly fast, naturally it is hard to keep up with all of the new bugs and other problems that arise with that. Linden is doing EXACTLY the right thing in courting and taking care of developers… It is only with their support that LL will be in a better position to hire more coders to help fix all those bugs and more monitors to deal with the growing griefer population.

    I say…be patient. SL is a work in progress–and a wonderful work at that! 🙂

    -LifeFactory

  27. LifeFactory Writer says:

    And grand apologies for my two typos! That was very sloppy of me. 😀

    -Life

  28. Gregorysr Spitteler says:

    I hope that the inventory and the friends list will be fixed after this up date as for everything else it is fine but the lag it is uninvoidable but made be ir could be worked on

  29. Web Page says:

    People who post off topic are greifers.

    Interesting results. I’m glad that the developer community is being supported because without them secondlife would have a lot less interesting stuff. At that point we could all go back to text muds, which as I recall were not all that hard to hack and were often overrun by griefers.

  30. Dirk Felix says:

    #22 Web Page
    People who post off topic comments statiing they must be greifers are truly simple. 😉

    I’m not sure development is being supported, see the bug list lately? Ever wonder why there is a bug list? Could it be that engineering created and make this spaghetti code day in and day out? Don’t you think a modular platform would eliminate most or all of the complaints? Most Enterprise platforms are modular for a reason: STABILITY 😉

    Is this a LL generated and collected survey? Any non-biased 3rd party company used in collecting data? Without 3rd party collection all of this becomes a bit suspect, but I’m jaded due to the long list of documented experiences with LL.

    Next time maybe get Gartner to do this and I will believe what I read. 😉

  31. U M says:

    @22 Oh please not everyone is playing here. Don`t make things worse.

  32. LifeFactory Writer says:

    @26…I’m also not “playing.” Not sure how you see the comment as “making things worse?”

    Above all, SL is a great place to learn social graces…or not.

    –Life

  33. Takeshi Kiama says:

    Heaven forbid your SSL actually moves faster than the speed of a slug so you can actually take my money. Unless of course you dont want it. Cause thats the impression me and my partners are left with everytime it takes your secure page over half an hour to load. I have no problem, I’ll keep my money and you can give me everything for free.

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