M Linden: Second Life Update and Welcome to Howard Linden (aka Howard Look)

Greetings everyone!

Over the last several months we’ve been hard at work making Second Life more relevant, more usable and more reliable.  Our work is showing up in Second Life’s usage statistics.  On Sunday of this past weekend, we hit another concurrency high of 76,946 and yesterday log-ins for the previous 60 days crossed the 1.4 Million mark.

What have we been up to?

Reliability is a top strategic focus for the Lab.  In October, FJ Linden described how we are launching LL Net (our private fiber optic ring connecting our data centers) to provide additional redundancy and eliminate our reliance on VPNs.  I am happy to report that this project is ahead of schedule and other improvements are underway.

Another top priority is to make Second Life more relevant. Last month, Ben Glenn discussed the work we are doing with Big Spaceship to improve the first hour experience.  This project is moving along at a nice clip, as well.  You will soon see a new website design that visually highlights the wonderful range of activities people enjoy in Second Life.

With T Linden (Tom Hale) on board and working closely with the user experience team, we are also making great progress on the usability project.  It’s a major effort because the viewer is at least three applications in one.  Maybe four.  Redesigning it so that it is easy to use for new Residents without sacrificing functionality for experienced users is no simple task and it’ll take well into second half of next year before you will be downloading a new and different client.  (In the interim, we’ll have regular viewer updates, as we do now.)  We’ve landed on a new look and feel for the viewer that I am very excited about.  Now we begin the hard work of redesigning the menu structures and tool layouts and modularizing the code base so that it can accommodate the design changes we are making.

As I mentioned in my last update, we’ve been actively hiring to support all the work underway to make Second Life more relevant, more usable and more reliable. I have some great news to share on the talent front.   We’ve added a new leader to our engineering leadership team.

Howard Look (you’ll know him as Howard Linden) is joining us as SVP of Customer Applications — which we call “The Front.” He’ll be responsible for leading the engineering team responsible for the customer-facing part of the Second Life experience.  Throughout 2009, Howard will be working with T Linden and our product, design teams and engineering teams to reshape the Second Life viewer into a simple and intuitive interface.

Before joining Linden Lab, Howard was VP of Software at Pixar.  His team created and maintained Pixar’s proprietary film-making system. Prior to Pixar, Howard was on the founding team of TiVo where he headed up Application Software and User Experience.  TiVo could have had a highly complex interface that put distance between users and the content they were seeking.  Instead, the company did the opposite.  By making the device intuitive and easy to use — and therefore attractive to a broad market — TiVo changed the way people watch TV.  Prior to TiVo, Howard was at SGI where he worked on the Inventor team.   While Director of Applied Engineering, Howard and his team created a virtual world called “O2 Out of the Box Experience.”

Howard also has a passion for education and spent time this past summer as a substitute teacher (4th grade and middle school math).  He told me they were his hardest days of work ever.

When I met Howard, it was clear he was a great fit for Linden Lab – rich content creation tools (Pixar), intuitive interfaces (TiVo), 3D worlds (SGI) and a bonus attribute in his passion for education. I’m very pleased that Howard decided to join the executive team at Linden Lab.

We’re assembling a world-class team to deliver on our promise of a highly relevant and delightful user experience and a stable and reliable platform.

Cheers!
— M Linden

This entry was posted in Announcements & News, CEO Announcement, Creativity & Ideas, Operations, Resident Experience, Website Status. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to M Linden: Second Life Update and Welcome to Howard Linden (aka Howard Look)

  1. Katt Linden says:

    Please welcome Howard Linden!

    “M says Howard Linden is “a great fit for Linden Lab – rich content creation tools (Pixar), intuitive interfaces (TiVo), 3D worlds (SGI) and a bonus attribute in his passion for education.”

    The Question:
    What sorts of benefits to your experience of Second Life, via the viewer, would you dream up for someone with Howard Linden’s background?

    Forum thread here: http://forums.secondlife.com/showthread.php?t=295677

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