Yesterday I had the pleasure of collecting a Technology Emmy Award for Second Life, in the field of user-created-content. How cool! In accepting that award onstage, I said that I was doing it for two special groups of people. The first is all the Lindens: the more than 250 people who have chosen to join together in our now 8 year long mission to build and tirelessly support Second Life. The second group is the residents: the first hundreds and now millions of people who had the courage and passion to bring the virtual world to life by creating it and then believing that is was real. As I’ve said before, you are the engines of creation, and there will be many more awards yet to come. I can imagine a future where the most beautiful of such awards are pure digital. I’d love to see Starax’s version of an Emmy. For now, we’ll try and take good care of the good old fashioned gold one.
Anyway… onto some thoughts and updates. Overall usage as measured by hours spent in Second Life, the land mass of Second Life, and and currency exchange transactions has continued to grow in the fourth quarter of 2007. As promised, we’ve been making steady progress on uptime and crash rates. Though any Linden can tell you that I’ll be the first to say that I wish we were moving faster, we’re getting there. System uptime improved from 98% in Q3 to about 99% in Q4. Our crash rate has also dropped about 3% in Q4. Additionally, we’ve gotten infrastructure work done making it very likely that we will be able to more aggressively reduce viewer and simulator crashes, as well as eliminate many more sources of content loss in Q1 of this year.
It is pretty impressive to compare 2007 to 2006 now that the year is done. In 2007, our usage hours grew 383%! The land mass of Second Life grew 230% to 880 square kilometers, which translates to us having to install and bring online over 9,000 server CPUs. This was a tremendous amount of service growth to handle as a company, and made harder to do while simultanously growing our headcount by about 150%. Our strong culture of transparency, self-direction, and accountability made this possible without coming apart as an organization. Not a year without troubles both internal and external, but a remarkable achievement.
There has been lots of speculation and skepticism in the media regarding the success that businesses are having in-world. I’d like to point out that most of the most visible media coverage has focused narrowly on attempts to use SL for brand marketing. In reality, the majority of the business use we are seeing now in SL is focused on meetings and collaboration, and is rapidly increasing as more companies discover the efficiencies and unique capabilities that working together in a virtual world can offer. As I’ve said in the past, I think Second Life is going through a natural evolution which mirrors other new communications mediums, as individual early adopter usage shifts to include education and work collaboration. As far as we can tell, education and work use is now growing at a larger relative rate than the overall growth of SL, so we can expect to see lots more of it in-world.
Looking ahead, I don’t have much to add beyond repeating my recent messages, which I think is a good thing. We will focus intensely in 2008 on continuing to make SL more stable. We will keep opening the SL platform up to residents, developers, entrepreneurs, and partners. We will shift from our historical focus on relentless feature innovation to put making and keeping happy customers first on our list of priorities.