When Will Second Life Get Bought?

Google will release something like Second Life (if they don’t buy Second Life first). … I think advertising in virtual worlds is something they will want to figure out.

Got Ads? – Google Avatar World

I agree with the first part because Google has to get into this space because of the ad potential just like MySpace has to because of social networking. However, an offer from Google or MySpace or Microsoft or IBM would be a clear indication that Linden Labs is succeeding in their mission and the only way I can see them selling Second Life is if they feel they can’t achieve their mission. At least that’s my read of their CEO’s comments last fall:

Within Linden Lab we have a mix of investors with an unusually long time horizon. Looking back I would say we were at first simply very lucky to have such investors (Mitch Kapor being the best and first example), since I knew very little about how to raise investment to finance a company. With learning and the sound counsel of those first investors, we later were able to be more intentional in finding the sort of investors that we believed would have a long time horizon. There are also some investors who have specific principles that they are willing to stick to independent of the impact that these principles may have on the value of their investments. Examples of such principles would include Pierre Omidyar’s (one of Linden Lab’s owners) desire to invest through his foundation in companies that use technology to improve society, or Warren Buffet’s (not a Linden Lab investor) stated intention to not sell companies once he has acquired them even if they are underperforming expectations. These kinds of investors pursue companies that they believe share their principles. Linden Lab is fortunate to have a number of such strongly principled investors, with their intentions loosely grouped around the above-mentioned idea of using technology to advance people. Moreover, I believe that the principles of the investors in Linden Lab are very well aligned with creating great financial returns.

The investor owners of Linden Lab therefore have a mission which is the product of both a longer than average investment timeline, and a set of principles that are shared by a substantial number of the investors.

The Mission of Linden Labs

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