Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Linden looks outside the company for new CEO

SECOND LIFE, March 20 (Reuters) - Philip Rosedale, the founder of Linden Lab who is stepping down as chief executive, told Reuters on Thursday he was looking to bring in someone from outside the company rather than promote from within.

He also said the new CEO would have the freedom to change elements of Linden’s quirky culture.

“Companies always talk about the fear of losing their culture because parts of their culture are lame,” he said. “It would be inconsistent of me to bring someone in and say ‘Listen, buddy, you have to use the love machine.’”

Rosedale spoke at length in a Second Life interview about what Linden Lab was looking for in a new chief executive. He is leading the search and will become chairman of Linden’s board once a replacement is found.

The most important criteria, he said, was to find someone who’s had experience growing a small company into a global player. No one at Linden Lab brings the right résumé to the job.

“We need someone who’s done this stuff on a organizational scale we haven’t,” Rosedale said. “We’re all relatively junior.”

In describing the skills he was looking for in his replacement, Rosedale said the new chief should already be a passionate user of Second Life. They also have to be “a great coach” who will work well with Linden’s staff.

“And they have to have complementary skill sets to mine,” he said. “Because I’m staying and will still be involved.”

Experience operating in a global information technology market is necessary. Rosedale pointed to Second Life’s large non-American resident population and the company’s confusion last year as it began to charge VAT to European Second Life users.

“Me, I’m a California guy, all the way,” he said.

Looking forward to the year ahead, Rosedale expressed optimism about the new “HTML-on-a-prim” feature in development, but said his company’s top priorities remain making Second Life easier to use, and improving the stability of the software.

He said Second Life is currently able to turn between three and five percent of new registrants into committed users, compared with ten to fifteen percent for sites like Facebook or LinkedIn.

“I want my new role to be about getting that retention up,” he said. “I don’t want the community thinking I’m reducing my hours.”

By Eric Reuters from Reuters

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