Ebbe: SL users cashed out $60 mil last year

Second Life’s content creators redeemed over $60 million last year, Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg said Monday at the Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Conference in San Jose.

Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg at the second annual Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Conference.

Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg at the second annual Silicon Valley Virtual Reality Conference.

Of that $60 million, “a lot of that is from the fashion industry,” he added. “Just like in the real world, people want their avatars to look cool.”

Linden Lab had previously reported that in 2009, Second Life residents earned $55 million.

Altberg’s presentation focused on the how Second Life grew as a result of user-created content.

“Second Life is, to date, still the most successful virtual world that’s ever been created,” he said. “The GDP inside of Second Life is about a half a billion dollars.”

Altberg continued, “There’s a woman in New Zealand that makes hands and feet for avatars — she makes hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Other successful products include hair, vehicles, houses, furniture, even trees.

“There’s a huge amount of creativity,” said Altberg.

His presentation in the video below starts at the 39 minutes mark.

Kathleen Watkins

Kathleen Watkins has been active in virtual worlds since 2006. In Second Life she is a supporter and presenter at the Nonprofit Commons. In OpenSim she leads weekly tours of the open source, hypergrid-enabled metaverse and teaches classes in 3D content creation with Blender software. Her background is in anthropology, nonprofit administration, and video production.

  • While in OpenSim everyone expects everything to be free and given away. The only ones people accept make (some) money are hosting companies. I think we need to move forward on creating living economies for OpenSim also. … so people can get $75k salaries 😉

    • Frank Corsi

      There is a huge part of the opensim community that seems to me at least, that they will rather destroy it, before allowing it to earn real income for people.

      • Imagine if other open source projects like Apache, MySQL, PostgreSQL, LibreOffice, Gimp, Linux, FreeBDS to mention a few would demand or expect that everything produced on them should be given away for free?

        • I don’t think it’s particularly huge — but there are probably a handful of very vocal people.

          I still remember the outcry when AOL came along and suddenly there was commerce on the Internet, where previously there were only hobbyists and academics. The horror! The horror!

          There are still folks out there bemoaning the loss of those good old days and their 2400 baud modems.

          But I have a feeling that what people are really complaining about are the excesses. Nobody minds ads that advertise sales on stuff they want to buy, or ads that are funny, or let them know about something cool they didn’t know existed before. But boring ads for stuff they don’t want — then it’s spam. But even spam can be delicious when properly cooked!

          Same thing for companies trying to sell a product when there’s a free alternative. Some people get really upset about that. Frankly, I don’t see the problem — except for the company doing the selling. imagine trying to compete with something that’s free! They probably wake up every night with nightmares. (I’m thinking of YOU, Microsoft Office.)

          I don’t even mind if someone takes a Linda Kellie freebie and uploads it to the Kitely Market. First, if she doesn’t mind, why should I care? And she doesn’t — she’s said multiple times people can do whatever they want with her content. Second, it might be worth it for me to pay the 10 KC to get the item instantly, rather than try to hunt for it all over the hypergrid, or upload it from scratch from Zadaroo. Third, if I don’t like it, I can always get the free version — nobody is forcing me to buy.

          In fact, when I put something up for sale on Kitely Market, I usually try to remember to include links to the free options. Say, if I have a scripted hypergate up for sale, I’ll link to where they can get the script for free, instead.

          • The biggest problem Maria, is that so much milk is spilled on the fact that the OpenSim development focus is primarily standalone, private regions with hypergrid rather than grid scalability and support for building economies. There does not seem to be an acknowledgement that OpenSim is a product that people produce content and experiences on, which also involve financial transactions, and in sum involves far more effort than goes into the software development alone.

            There is absolutely nothing wrong with going wild in the development branch, as long as there is also a stable product branch with predictable behavior, regular bug fixing, backward compatibilty and a roadmap. Unless there is a minimum of predictability and accountability the platform cannot grow.

            Most of the developers are probably gonna go wooooah – I’m NOT gonna do THAT! – Which is perfectly understandable. OpenSim is their passion, baby and for most, their hobby.

            As has been discussed before, the most likely solution is to fork the code to focus on grid production, and fund that development to a level where it can consistently deliver. Everyone would benefit from that from the hobbyist to the secondLife wannabe grid.

            It would also remove some of the pressure I am sure exist on the current developers, where they again could become more experimental rather than sit and support largely undocumented code on their spare time (which must be a true nightmare.)

            By now, we have all seen the contours of HIFI, and for many it does not look quite like the ticket. Actually, what we have is good, it can be built on and made better. Hypergrid is the key. The other key is 13+ years of content development that exist both in SecondLife and OpenSim. That is a heck of a head-start we should unite on.

          • Brad Cavendish

            I have never tried making money on SL, however I have tried to sell content on two private grids. I use a lot of free content. When I first discovered the virtual world it was on SL and I was unaware of freebies. I paid for a wide variety of content on SL and was happy with it and the price.

            As far as making money goes, I would love to. I have at the moment six regions on my personal computer that are connected to OSgrid. I am not at all unhapyy with the amount of freebies available. As for making money goes I will say this. I am disabled and live on a very small check. The virtual world is for me a place to socialize and share ideas with people. It also gives me a chance to be creative. Of course I would greatly benefit from making an extra $40.00 a month from home.

          • Actually I think many in SL are in your situation and make a few extra dollars listing their creations on the marketplace and in-world.

            If you have creations you think people also would pay for in OpenSim, you should try list them on Kitely. You only need to register a free account and use the merchant sandbox to transfer your creations there to list them. I am sure $40 is easily achievable. Good luck!

          • “There are still folks out there bemoaning the loss of those good old days and their 2400 baud modems.” I heard a rumor that 1/2 duplex modems are gaining new interest as a fashion statement…

          • Booting your $10000 gold Apple Watch by flipping switches PDP 8 style on the display is the ultimate statement. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/8c/Digital_pdp8-e2.jpg

          • There is some truth to that, the marketing will be interesting, to be sure. But consider this.

            The target customer for the 1/2 duplex modems are those types of people who talk on and on and never let the other person[s] they talk to have a say…

            Admittedly it is a small niche market but it does have potential…

          • With the half duplex modem you have to type OVER, when you want the other party to transmit.

            I am sure half duplex modems are installed in politician offices all over the planet.

          • Exactly! So there is a larger target market than I had originally thought! But with the regular rank and file people I can see social groups opening up that cater to those who talk and don’t listen, but also those who listen but don’t talk.

            Put them together and someone may have a winner!

            I will keep my eyes open for developments…

          • You should start development (reverse engineering) right away, make it open source and provide the public with assemble-your-own kits distributed at Walmart (or even IKEA – yeah IKEA.)

          • Yes, I was thinking I need to first find a supplier of 1/2 duplex modems…but then your mention that Politicians likely already use them, perhaps that will not be a difficult task.

            I also got to thinking that along with meet and greet social sites there would also be a need for support sites. It might even become a new entry in the DSM and need psychiatrists and such, AA groups.

            I can see this catching on big time now…but first, the public needs to become used to them as fashion items….

          • The public is actually quite accustomed to 1/2 duplex modems; they just know them as TV sets. It is only a matter of marketing to get them back in fashion. You could call them gModem. Every so often the owner would get to opportunity to transmit a 140 character message. It would be called a Cookie.

          • ahhh, yessss!! I smell money now!! (chocolate chip cookies??)-)

          • On the subject of 1/2 duplex modems and politicians, I just came across this drawing that, well 😐

            https://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/obama-isis-sea-level.jpg

            OK, let’s get back to the normal programming…

          • was fun-))

          • We did some great product development there, hehe

            Now I am dying to fill my evening with the Eurovision Song Contest.

            …I usually skip to the voting sequence ;

            Norvège – zéro point
            Croatie – un point

            Le Royaume-Uni – douze points

          • I just hope nobody else reads this brainstorming session and tries to butt in on our ground floor monopoly!!

          • Whoops! I thought we were on a private channel…

          • crap!! oh well….but, hmmm…you may have another good idea there-)))

    • Sara Baxton

      That idea may run most away, Then what?

    • 75k!?!?! :D, I’d settle for half that if I could basically do it from my store alone. Even in SL right now, only a tiny fraction of people are earning that kind of money.

      But I dont agree that everyone expects everything free in Opensim. Kitely market is good proof of that. While its hardly exploded, the growth is steady and consistent. I cant quit my dayjob from what I earn there, but I could pay for a damn nice foreign holiday, or maybe a nice (used 🙂 ) car.

      • 70k is what Maria says for a grid admin http://www.hypergridbusiness.com/2014/12/how-much-should-you-pay-for-a-gridmaster/

        So, if a grid admin can have that, then why can’t a creator have 75k? :-))

        Frankly, I think hardly anyone can make a decent living making 3D content regardless of which market they address. The last time LL published stats on this (2010), there were about 4200 individuals making monthly withdrawals that would translate into something one could make a living of. I suspect a large portion of those were landowners at the time, but also animators and others.

  • Serene Jewell

    There are more than 30,000 people in the public part of OpenSim. More in the private grids. They each get to decide for themselves whether they want to try to make money or not. That’s the beauty of a free, open source, decentralized project like OpenSim. Freedom to choose.

    • TribeGadgets

      Yes. And freedom to choose not to give all away for free too. In 8 years plus in SL I have never cashed out but can make a few bits here and there in order to buy interesting things from others, who may well convert. Its called value for things really. A freely convertible supported currency (and not the hyped crypto nonsense) grabs my interest. Because even if I never take it out personally, others can.

      (also 30k in public OS? well I am at least 5 of them as I prefer to have a resident account on multiple grids rather than the tedious business of trying to keep tally of what I got where plus easier to keep tabs on my stock of self generated stuff. And hardly want to end up selling things to myself after all)

  • Alex Ferraris

    As I always said here that OPPORTUNITY attracts people more than FREEBIES. The fact that a person can loose or make money makes it exciting.

    • You may be on to something there!

  • Sara Baxton

    This topic should send the herd of creators back to SL to get a peice of the action 🙂

    • Most categories in SL are flooded with content, so unless you come up with something really new and shiny, it is very difficult to get any visibility.