Just two weeks after former CEO Rod Humble left Linden Lab, parent company of Second Life®, the company has named a new CEO, Ebbe Altberg.
The new CEO has spent twenty years working in high tech companies. Since April 2012, he’s been COO for BranchOut, which makes a messaging app for the workplace. Prior to that, he worked for over four years for Yahoo!, most recently as Senior Vice President for Media Engineering and previously in Switzerland as Vice President, Head of Audience – EMEA (Europe and the Middle East). While in Switzerland, he also served on the board of Yahoo! SARL (Sport Air Racing League).
Prior to working at Yahoo!, Altberg spent eight years working as Chief Product Officer for Ingenio Inc, an internet and telecommunications company that was purchased by AT&T. Before working there, he was a Product Manager for Microsoft for eleven and a half years, working on a variety of Microsoft products. He attended Middlebury College in upstate New York from 1984 to 1988.
The BranchOut website branchout.com/about/team says he “Loves building simple and powerful products, platforms, and teams that improve the way we work and play.“
What everyone in Second Life is wondering, of course, is what this means for Second Life? Some people, this writer included, felt some fears upon learning that he was formerly a Yahoo! executive. It's been less than two weeks since that company purchase the virtual world Cloud Party and announced plans to shut it down. The fact that he previously spent eight years with a company that was acquired by AT&T doesn’t quiet those fears.
However it’s been two years since he worked at Yahoo!. There’s nothing in his background to give a clue to how he might view Second Life. There’s no sign that he has any experience or interest in virtual worlds or 3D technology, but that in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. Considering the large number of Second Life members who live outside the United States, Altberg’s experience in living outside the United States and handling Europe and the Middle East business could be a positive.
In the press release announcing his appointment as Linden Lab CEO, Altberg said, “Second Life is now in its eleventh year, and every day, users continue to create more and more amazing experiences to enjoy. Though much younger, Blocksworld has already seen hundreds of thousands of unique user-created worlds shared for everyone to play with. I'm absolutely committed to supporting our customers and helping them become even more successful.”
We’re going to have to wait and see. This writer chooses to be optimistic.