Thursday, January 22, 2009

Linden Lab Acquires OnRez and XStreetSL

Written 21, 2009

Linden Lab Acquires OnRez and XStreetSL

Yesterday Linden Lab announced (surPRISE!) it had acquired the two major web-based marketplaces for virtual products—OnRez and XStreetSL (formerly SLExchange).

Darn it.

Both OnRez and XStreetSL provide out-of-world, web-based shopping for Second Life goods and services. Customers can choose from tens of thousands of items, paying with Lindens or dollars, and items are delivered instantaneously. Hundreds of people, including me, sell goods on both services. In my case, I sell more than twenty times as much merchandise on XStreet than I do at my store.

OnRez, which was started by FlipperPA Peregrine,  was acquired by Electric Sheep, a company that for a time developed sims in Second Life (the flock has now moved on to bigger and better things). About a year ago, Anshe Chung of Dreamland fame became the largest owner of SLExchange; I believe Apotheus Silverman is the other main owner. Presumably because of Linden Labs’ getting touch with use of their copyrighted name Second Life (it seems they also think they own the letters S and L in juxtaposition), the name was recently changed to XStreetSL (surely those pesky Lindens won’t notice the SL if we move it to the end of the name).

I’d sure like to know the back story behind the acquisitions. I expect Electric Sheep found the service a burden, a throwback to their former mission. And Anshe—well, I suspect her business has been in freefall since the Lindens rocked her world last spring by dropping the prices of islands. I’m not certain, but I believe she converted a lot of her full sims to openspaces, in which case she must have taken a second hit when the tier for openspaces increased this month.

But beyond that, I worry—a LOT—about Linden Lab inserting itself into the resident-created economy of Second Life. Hasn’t this until now been about the Lab providing us with a platform in which we can live and create? Hasn’t the content of Second Life until now belonged to us?

What’s next? Will Linden Lab acquire XCite! and shut down the sculpted penis business? Will they force a hostile takeover of Sin Skins or acquire Sine Wave Island? Will they get a monopoly on the scripted automobile or prim hair market?

I had great hopes OnRez and XStreetSL would eventually start delivering products to OSGrid and the other virtual worlds that are popping up. It would have gone a long way toward creating an economy those worlds all lack. It seems certain Linden Lab won’t be looking in that direction. Hmmm. Maybe that’s why it made the acquisitions.

Philip Rosedale, where are you? Please come back. Please!


See Gwyneth Llewelyn's blog post on the acquisition. She talks about, among other things, the potential for a collapse in in-world sales and a decrease in land mass if Linden Lab pushes web-based shopping..
Be sure to read the comments to Gwyn's post, too!

See here for Hiro Pendragon's take on the acquisition.

And here for Linden Lab's announcement.

1 comment:

Peter Stindberg said...

Here's my take on it: