Linden Lab Lays Off 30 Staff

I can now report this morning that Linden Lab has laid off staff as part of what appears to be a significant reorganization and reallocation of staff resources. My source (who shall remain anonymous, but whom I consider a good source) tells me that 30 people were let go. The rumour mill this weekend has been saying that 20 to 30 people were laid off, so the figure would appear to be accurate.

So we can assume that Sansar staff who have “disappeared”—notably Landon McDowell/Landon Linden (the Chief Product Officer), Nyx Linden, and Cara Linden—have not been reassigned to Second Life, and are indeed gone. Jesus Christ.

WHAT. THE. FUCK. HAPPENED?!??

Another source tells me something which may or may not be true:

I heard a rumour Linden Lab got bought, about two/three weeks ago; I don’t fully trust the source (it was definitely a rumour), but that’d explain it.

It is now clear that something major has happened at Linden Lab, whatever it is. I now disagree with what Inara Pey has said about the Friday Product Meetup even more strongly.

This is not “business as usual”. The hastily-arranged Friday Product Meetup was damage control, an effort to get out in front of the story.

UPDATE 10:59 a.m.: I am angry about how all this was handled by Linden Lab. I am sad for the Linden Lab staff who have lost their jobs. And I absolutely hate how private companies with non-unionized employees handle staff changes like this. It’s brutal. As the survivor of a layoff very early in my career, when I did work for a time at a private software company, my heart goes out to the Linden Lab staff who survived this layoff, who now have to adjust to a new reality (and probably an increased workload, too).

And I have been angrily arguing with several people in Discord, who think that I should not have published this blogpost (as if the news wasn’t going to get out anyway; in this digital age you can’t hide something like this). I am staying off Discord for the rest of the day, before I say something in anger that I truly regret.

This is news, I am not under a gag order from Linden Lab, and it directly impacts the Sansar community. How could I not report on something so major? Ebbe Altberg, the board of directors and upper management at Linden Lab have already made their decisions and acted on them, and the news would have eventually gotten out anyway.

UPDATE 12:22 p.m.: Inara Pey left a comment on an earlier blogpost, telling me that, as far as she was aware, Landon McDowell, the Chief Product Officer, was still with the company:

While Landon McDowell (Landon Linden) has taken something of a lead with Sansar, his title is Chief Product Officer, which (so I understand) covers both Sansar and SL. Right now (Monday, Nov 4th), he still appears to be active at the Lab (e.g. his SL account is still active, unlike a couple of others I’ve been checking on).

So, it is possible that with Sheri taking over the “GM” post with Sansar, he may have simply stepped back from the more day-to-day hands-on aspects of running Sansar, rather than having departed from LL or anything of that nature.

UPDATE 2:53 p.m.: Wagner James Au of the long-running blog New World Notes has confirmed my reporting, citing his own sources, saying:

Confirming a blog post from Ryan Schultz (along with some ominous rumblings I heard last Friday), some insiders tell me that Linden Lab has recently laid off over 20 staffers working on Sansar, the company’s social VR platform. Even more tragically, the layoffs include some longtime Lindens who got their start working on Second Life, Linden Lab’s core profitable product, but who were moved to the Sansar team.

Asked to comment on these layoff reports, a Linden Lab spokesperson just sent me this response, in its entirety: “We have no comment at this time, but we’re continuing to develop both Second Life and Sansar, and we’re excited about the many new partnerships and features on tap for 2020!”

UPDATE Nov. 13th: I haven’t been checking messages sent to me via the Contact page on this blog lately, so I missed this anonymous message sent to me on Nov. 4th:

I have a trustworthy, insider source. I can confirm Linden Lab laid off a significant number of Sansar staff (more than 50%) last week ([October] 30th). Sansar is not growing, no growth = no revenue. The Lab couldn’t get secure more funding/investor money so they had to do this. [The] events pivot is a Hail Mary to try increase user growth. Morale within the company is low (90% of avatar team was laid off). Ironically, 100% of the team working on events was laid off as well. Don’t expect any large features in the next few months.

So I have yet another source that corroborates what both I and Wagner have been told.

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