Linden Lab: Second Life entrepreneurship is booming

Philip Rosedale, founder and CEO of Second Life parent Linden Lab, downplayed recent reports that big corporations are bailing out of the virtual world because it’s too difficult for them to financially justify staying there.

Rosedale said the virtual world is still in its earliest stages, but different models of commerce are beginning to crop up. Thanks to processor advances by Intel (INTC) and Nvidia (NVDA), and more powerful computers running operating systems like Microsoft’s (MSFT) Windows Vista, more people will soon have access to Second Life.

“Second life in many ways is just barely getting off the ground. It just barely works,” Rosedale said. “Much like the Web, this is an entrepreneur’s environment.”

As evidence that business in Second Life is beginning to take off, Rosedale said 830 residents are making more than $1,000 per month, and that number has doubled in the last 6 months. There are more than $1.3 million per day worth of interpersonal transactions. While speaking to an audience at the AlwaysOn technology conference at Stanford University, he walked his Second Life avatar around a Second Life store that he said makes between $2,000 and $5,000 to per month.

Rosedale compared it to the early days of eBay (EBAY), where stay-at-home moms could set up shop and make money. “That’s the same thing that happened on the Internet in 1996,” he said. “This is exactly the same phenomenon, but it’s being done in 3D.”

Rosedale said 200,000 people a day log into Second Life, and only 30 percent are in the United States. The bulk are in Europe, he said, and Japan is one of the fastest-growing locations. After his talk, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, a vice president at IBM (IBM) and Chris Melissinos, chief gaming officer at Sun Microsystems (SUNW), joined him on stage to talk about the potential of virtual worlds.

Both said they expect virtual worlds to grow over time, and to become significant money-making environments for individuals and companies.

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