The First Successful Metaverse Stablecoin Predates Crypto (and Tilia Gets Investment from J.P. Morgan)

The first successful metaverse stablecoin actually predates crypto! (photo by CoinWire Japan on Unsplash)

In a five-minute YouTube video which dropped today, Amy Jo Kim speaks with Linden Lab’s founding CEO, Philip Rosedale, about a stable digital currency that powers a vibrant metaverse economy—and has kept it running for almost two decades! Of course, I am talking about the Linden dollar.

As I often like to say on this blog, Second Life is the perfect mature, fully-evolved model of a working metaverse which newer entrants to the space would benefit from studying! And whether or not you are already familiar with Second Life, Philip is always a good interview: insightful, personable, understandable, and articulate. Highly recommended!

In related news, were you aware that Linden Lab’s financial subsidiary, Tilia, has recently secured a strategic investment (amount unnamed) from J.P. Morgan Payments? According to the official press release:

Tilia LLC, the all-in-one payments platform, today announced it has secured a strategic investment from J.P. Morgan Payments. Tilia’s solution, built for game, virtual world and mobile application developers handles payment processing, in-game transactions, as well as payouts to creators by converting in-world tokens to fiat currency including USD, which serves as the backbone of any functioning virtual economy.

Drew Soinski, Senior Payments Executive, Managing Director, J.P. Morgan Payments said “We believe that contextualized commerce – such as virtual economies within games and virtual worlds – is an area perfectly positioned for innovative payments solutions to play a critical role in the coming years. We’re delighted to invest in Tilia LLC, a market leading provider of software gaming payments tools, to develop solutions for these new and exciting marketplaces.”

Tilia’s virtual payment system easily and securely converts in-game tokens and currency into fiat currency. Built from the ground up to power Second Life and its creator-based economy, Tilia was developed over several years to build its unique capabilities. Tilia has secured the required money transmitter licenses in the U.S. to support payouts, allowing for secure transactions on a large scale. Tilia provides developers with the tools to enable thriving, profitable in-world economies that empower their players and users to buy and sell virtual goods and services and facilitate robust play-to-earn programs.

“Virtual economies represent a huge financial opportunity particularly for game, app and virtual world developers,” said Brad Oberwager, Executive Chairman of Tilia LLC. “J.P. Morgan Payments, a worldwide leader and recognized innovator in payments, is the right partner as we continue to expand capabilities in line with these rapidly growing creator-based economies”.

Charlie Fink of Forbes writes:

Tilia has been running Second Life’s $650 million dollar economy for the past seven years. Financing for the new company is coming from their strategic partner, JP Morgan. “It’s very important virtual worlds have the instantaneous settlement Tilia provides,” said Brad Oberwager, Executive Chairman of Tilia, and acting CEO of Linden Lab. “We can handle very high transaction volume at very low dollar amount that even with USDC, the systems aren’t built for that kind of stuff. We move one 250th of a dollar sometimes.”

In addition to the investment, Tilia is also working with J.P. Morgan Payments to increase payout methods and expand the number of pay-out currencies. Perhaps most importantly, partnering with the world’s largest bank will enable Tilia to scale to the potential size of the putative metaverse.

Dean Takahashi of Venture Beat adds:

Oberwager sees his company as crucial for the metaverse.

“Tilia is money into the metaverse. It’s money moved into the metaverse and money moved out of the metaverse,” said Oberwager. “And why this is so important is because you cannot have this concept of the metaverse without a social economy. It is both the social aspect and the financial aspect. Those two things must work in harmony. To do money, you need some virtual token to make money work.”

He added, “Money has to be rock solid. That is JP Morgan. That’s the partnership. What’s the value of Tilia? You can’t build a metaverse without user-generated content. You can’t build a metaverse without social interaction. You can’t build a metaverse without some sort of financial token that allows people to build a world.”

The company will use the funds to expand its business and go into new markets.

“We are moving money in the metaverse,” Oberwager said. “It’s a real thing. that’s where the investment is going. We have a customer list and people are coming to us.”

Tilia fuels commerce in Second Life, which generated $86 million in payments in the past 12 months. The Second Life economy is still measured at $650 million nearly 20 years after its founding. Tilia has about 48 employees.

Oberwager said the deal took about a year to work out with J.P. Morgan Payments. During that time, Tilia made sure it could be interoperable with J.P. Morgan.

Fellow metaverse blogger Wagner James Au provides a bit of context:

Finance giants like J.P. Morgan make strategic investments like this on the expectation they’ll be accessing a larger market down the road, i.e. burgeoning metaverse platforms with less experience than Linden Lab handling international payments/virtual currency.

On the other hand, Tilia has been a standalone company since 2019 and only counts Second Life and below-the-radar metaverse platform Upland as its major consumer-facing clients. (Despite a partnership with Unity in early 2022.) But with JP Morgan as a backer, I’d expect other customers to come along soon.

I agree with Wagner; I’m pretty sure that this partnership will lead to more metaverse platforms using Tilia to implement their in-world economies! (By the way, this news has absolutely zero impact on Second Life. Everything stays the same.)

Second Life is Looking for Beta Testers for its New Puppetry Feature: Control Your SL Avatar’s Face and Upper Body Movements Using Your Webcam!

This afternoon, Linden Lab (the makers of virtual world Second Life) made an announcement:

Wouldn’t it be cool if you could animate your avatar in real time? What if you could wave your arm and your avatar could mimic your motions?  Or imagine if your avatar could reach out and touch something in-world or perform animations?  Linden Lab is exploring these possibilities with an experimental feature called “Puppetry.”

We have been working on this feature for some time and now we are ready to open it up to the Second Life community for further development and to find out what amazing things our creators will do with this new technology.

The code base is alpha level and does contain its share of rough edges that need refinement, however the project is functionally complete, and it is possible for the scripters and creators of Second Life to start to try it out.

The animated GIF I copied from the Linden Lab announcement didn’t work in my blogpost, so I downloaded the video from their tweet below:

Now, Second Life is not the first flatscreen virtual world to announce such a feature (that would be Sinespace; I wrote about their Avatar Facial Driver back in 2018). At that time, Sinespace said that facial coverings such as glasses might interfere with the tracking. However, four years have passed and I have zero doubt that the technology has improved!

Linden Lab goes on to explain how the Puppetry technology works:

Puppetry accepts target transforms for avatar skeleton bones and uses inverse kinematics (IK) to place the connecting bones in order for the specified bones to reach their targets.  For example the position and orientation “goal” of the hand could be specified and IK would be used to compute how the forearm, elbow, upper arm, and shoulder should be positioned to achieve it. The IK calculation can be tricky to get right and is a work in progress. 

The target data is supplied by a plug-in that runs as a separate process and communicates with the viewer through the LLSD Event API Plug-in (LEAP) system.  This is a lesser known functionality of the Viewer which has been around for a while but has, until now, only been used for automated test and update purposes.

The Viewer transmits the Puppetry data to the region server, which broadcasts it to other Puppetry capable Viewers nearby.  The receiving Viewers use the same IK calculations to animate avatars in view.

For more details about the Puppetry technology, take a look at the Knowledge Base article Puppetry : How it Works

To my knowledge, this marks a major change in how avatars move in Second Life. One of the things which the newer generation of metaverse platform users (much more used to social VR platforms like VRChat) have found odd is that SL avatars rely so much on the playback of pre-recorded animations. (Keep in mind that SL does not support users in VR headsets, as it cannot reach the necessary frame rates to avoid VR sickness! There have been valiant attempts made over the years, however.)

If you are intrigued by this development and want to test it out for yourself, here are the details (it does sound as though you will need to be a bit of a computer geek to participate, at least in this open beta test period!):

The Puppetry feature requires a project viewer and can only be used on supporting Regions.  Download the project Viewer at the Alternate Viewers page.  Regions with Puppetry support exist on the  Second Life Preview Grid and are named: Bunraku, Marionette, and Castelet.

When using the Puppetry Viewer in one of those regions, if someone there is sending Puppetry data you should see their avatar animated accordingly.  To control your own avatar with Puppetry it’s a bit more work to set up the system.  You need: a working Python3 installation, a plug-in script to run, and any Python modules it requires.  If you are interested and adventurous: please give it a try.   More detailed instructions can be found on the Puppetry Development page.

We look forward to seeing what our creators do with the new Puppetry technology. Compared to other features we have introduced, it’s quite experimental and rough around the edges, so please be patient!  We will keep refining it, but before we go further we wanted to get our residents’ thoughts.

We will be hosting an open discussion inworld on Thursday, Sept 8 1:00PM SLT at the Bunraku, Marionette, and Castelet regions on the Preview Grid.    We’re also happy to talk about this at the upcoming Server User Group or Content Creator meetings.  Come by, let us know what you think, and hear about our future plans!

I for one will be quite excited to test this new feature out!

Comparing Second Life Basic, Premium, and Premium Plus Accounts: How Do You Choose What’s Best for You, and What Is the Best Value for Your Money?

This blogpost helps you figure out the best way to spend your pennies on a Second Life account!

It’s the hazy, lazy, crazy days of summer, and I must confess that I haven’t felt like blogging (or doing much of anything) these past few weeks. I’ve been watching lots of Netflix (Umbrella Academy season 3, yay!), testing out responses to various text prompts on DALL-E 2, and sending forth my small army of Second Life alts in a blitzkrieg campaign of pillaging all the fabulous freebies at the SL19B Shop and Hop event before it ends on July 10th. Trust Auntie Ryan; this is the single biggest haul of freebies you will ever see at any one shopping event in Second Life! 😉 So go now!!!

As part of the Second Life 19th Birthday celebrations, Linden Lab (the company who makes SL) has announced a brand new, second level of premium accounts for users, called Premium Plus. There’s been a lot of discussion in the official Second Life community forums (and elsewhere) about this, and so I thought it was time to take a bit of a deep dive and look at all three levels of SL accounts: Basic, Premium, and now the new Premium Plus, in an effort to help people figure out what’s best for them.

PLEASE NOTE: All prices in this blogpost are in U.S. dollars; you’ll have to do your own currency conversions if you use Canadian dollars, or whatever your local currency happens to be. In my case, the conversion between the stronger American dollar and the weaker Canadian dollar always makes me wince in pain!

Signup Bonus and Weekly Stipend

Basic accounts have no signup bonus or weekly stipend (i.e., an amount of Linden dollars which Linden Lab pays you). If you upgrade to Premium, you receive a L$1,000 signup bonus, plus a weekly stipend of L$300. If you choose to upgrade to Premium Plus, you get a L$3,000 signup bonus and a L$650 weekly stipend.

Please note that you must stay at your Premium (or Premium Plus) level for 45 days before you receive the signup bonus; this is prevent people from signing up for one month, collecting the bonus, then downgrading back to Basic!

Avatar Legacy Names

Basic accounts are what everybody gets when they first sign up for Second Life. You need to come up with a single-word name which is unique, and since Linden Lab dropped the first name-last name avatar naming system for new signups a decade ago, believe me, you are going to have to be very creative to come up with a good single-word name that isn’t already taken!

This name is known as your legacy name. You do need to understand the difference between your avatar’s legacy name (the name you chose for your avatar when you created your Second Life account) and your avatar’s display name (which you can change to pretty much anything you want, one change per week). Most Basic users are quite content to set up a display name and be done with it. If you want to create a first name and last name for your avatar, you will have to upgrade to either Premium or Premium Plus (for at least one month) in order to do so.

Here are my step-by-step instructions on how to change your avatar’s legacy name, written in April 2020, before Premium Plus was announced.

I did some quick calculations, and I discovered something surprising: if you have an avatar whose name you want to change, it’s actually cheaper to do if you upgrade your Basic account to Premium Plus, than it is if you upgrade to Premium!

  • Premium (1 month): $11.99 + Cost of Name Change $39.99 = $51.98
  • Premium Plus (1 month) $24.99* + Cost of Name Change via Concierge $15.00 = $39.99

*This is a time-limited promotional price. Afterwards, the price is $29.99 monthly.

So, if the only thing you are interested in is creating a first name and last name for your avatar, you could upgrade that account to Premium Plus for one month, submit a concierge request to pick a first name and last name, then downgrade your subscription back to Basic! (Yes, if you change your legacy avatar name, you do not lose it when you go from Premium or Premium Plus to Basic. You also don’t get the signup bonus, obviously.)

Also note that the last name you can choose for your avatar is limited to whatever choices are on the list of available last names at the time you make your request.

Number of SL Groups You Can Belong To

A big difference between the three levels of Second Life accounts is the number of groups you can be subscribed to at any one time. Many Basic users already are well familiar with the dance of unsubscribing from one store group in order to join another, once they hit the limit! In worst case scenarios, you might have to unsubscribe from a group with a group join fee, and then have to repay that fee to rejoin that group later. It’s obviously not ideal, and so both Premium and Premium Plus do offer you more group slots.

  • Basic accounts: limit of 42 groups
  • Premium accounts: 70 groups
  • Premium Plus accounts: 140 groups

So a freebie fashionista like Vanity Fair, who keeps bumping up against the 70-group limit because of all the store groups she belongs to, is a good condidate for an upgrade to Premium Plus! (And I am considering it.)

An interesting fact is that, if you have a Premium account subscribed to more than 42 groups, and then downgrade to Basic, you can still stay subscribed to all the groups! You will not be forced out of any groups. However, you will not be allowed to join any new groups until you bring your subscriptions down below 42! I assume the same applies to Premium Plus.

Priority Entrance into Full Sims

A nice perk (and one that comes in quite handy at times!) is that Premium and Premium Plus users get priority access to jam-packed, full sims, while Basic users have to wait until the number of avatars on a sim goes below a certain level before they can teleport in. (There are automated tools like the free Teleporter Hammer you can use, but if the sim is full, you still might be waiting for hours or even days to get into some overcrowded, popular sims!)

True story: there was once a time-limited 10th anniversary sale at Junbug, a wonderful vintage, historical, and fantasy womenswear store, where everything was priced at only L$10 each! The Teleporter Hammer was not working for me at all, despite days of trying, and I was so absolutely desperate to get a certain avatar (with a Basic account) into that store sim to so some bargain shopping, that I upgraded her from Basic to Premium for one month, just to get her into the sale!

Free Land Allowance and Linden Homes

Basic accounts get no free land allowance. If you want to get a free Linden Home, or want to purchase a parcel of land on the SL mainland, you must upgrade from Basic to Premium or Premium Plus. (Note that most Basic users simply rent land from estates created by landlords on private sims in Second Life. The downside of this is that, if your landlord suddenly closes shop, you lost your carefully decorated home—although you will probably get all your home decor returned in one big lump!)

  • Premium: 1,024 m² free land (which can be used for a Linden Home if you wish)
  • Premium Plus: 2,048 m² free land

Linden Lab has been busy creating a new continent full of sims with Linden Homes in a variety of styles over the past few years (for example, I picked up a lovely Victorian home on a landscaped parcel for an alt when I upgraded her from Basic to Premium in order to change her legacy name). LL has announced that they will be releasing 2,048 m² Linden Homes at some point in the future, as another incentive for you to upgrade, but nothing is currently available.

For example, if you upgraded from Basic to Premium Plus, you could use half of your 2,048 m² free land allowance to pick up a lovely Linden Home, and use the other half to “buy” (actually, lease) a 1,024 m² plot of Second Life mainland for a second home or a store.

Also, Linden Lab has announced a new concierge service, called Choose Your Linden Home, where you can submit a support ticket instead of trying your luck with the Second Life website, hoping to find the type of Linden Home you want, in the location you want!

Note that, unlike legacy names, you do not get to keep your free land when you downgrade from Premium or Premium Plus back to a Basic account!

Various Fees

In order to prevent abuse of resources, there are fees associated with various actions in Second Life. For example, Basic and Premium accounts have to pay L$100 to create a new group, while Premium Plus users can create groups for only L$10 each.

Uploading images, sounds, and animations costs L$10 each if you are a Basic or Premium member, but are free if you are a Premium Plus member. For example, if you are a content creator, or you use a wardrobe system which allows you to save a picture of each outfit, it might be worth it to splurge on a Premium Plus account!

If you wish to create a single event listing in the SL calendar, it costs L$50 for Basic users, L$10 for Premium users, and free for Premium Plus users. Basic users cannot create recurring (i.e., weekly or monthly) events, but Premium users can do so for L$50, and Premium Plus users can do it for free, so if you run a club or store and create a lot of events, it’s likely worth the upgrade to Premium Plus!


This is just a summary of the comparative benefits of the three levels of Second Life accounts. For more information about Premium Plus, you can read the official announcement from Linden Lab, from which the following comparison table comes:

Inara Pey also has an excellent blogpost summarizing the particulars of Premium Plus, with charts and tables comparing Premium and Premium Plus, including a few of her own personal observations.

BE A MOLE! Linden Lab Is Seeking Avatar Clothing Creators, Riggers and Avatar Makers for Second Life

I’m currently swamped with work for my full-time paying job as a university librarian, but I wanted to take a quick moment to post that Linden Lab is hiring! Here’s the post:


We are seeking clothing creators, riggers and avatar makers (skin, hair, makeup, accessories)!

Are you a talented clothing or avatar creator looking for work? Can you put your hand into creating standard and “way out there” outfits? Are you a master of rigging? Do you have a great PC and internet connection that you can run on at a high draw distance, decent FPS and will handle all that various content creation tools?

Essential Requirements:

  • Clothing Creators adept at using Substance 3D Painter, and experience with Marvelous Designer and Adobe Photoshop 
  • Riggers and Avatar makers adept at using Blender/Maya/ZBrush/Cinema 4D and rigging for Dev Kits and the Second Life Starter Avatars 
  • Skills in making textures and materials. 
  • Mesh optimization and creating strong LOD.
  • Own a laptop, desktop or Mac, capable of running Second Life at High and Ultra settings with a minimum draw distance of 256.
  • Good internet connection with good FPS.
  • All of your work must be your own and original.
  • Be reliable, dedicated and work well as part of a team with lots of different personalities.

Bonus Experience/Skills:

  • Avastar, Avatar/Animesh rigging. Experience making decor and accessories.
  • Creating animations.
  • Experience working with quadruped Avatars/Animesh.


If you think you fit the bill and want to join the LDPW, with a dynamic team of wonderful creators, working on exciting projects, then please email derrick@lindenlab.com and provide us with a portfolio and examples of your work. 


Here are some questions and answers from the Frequently-Asked Questions (FAQ) list, taken from the Linden Department of Public Works (LDPW) wiki:


Is this a volunteer position?
The moles are paid an hourly rate.

How do I apply?
Send a resume to Derrick Linden at derrick@lindenlab.com – please include your areas of expertise and any links, screenshots or other information you would like to have considered so we can see recent examples of your work.

Do the contractors keep the rights to their content?
In order to maintain the rights to reproduce the content and to make some of it available via the Library, Linden Lab is purchasing full rights to content created by the mole builders.

What’s all this about moles?
The contractors use accounts with the last name Mole, which references a bit of graffiti that appeared in the original city Regions long ago … “Beware the Mole People!” Of course, those moles who wish to make their primary account names known are certainly free to do so.


It sounds very much that one of the tasks which those hired will be working on is a new set of Second Life starter avatars, which are refreshed every so often. But of course there might be other projects, too. If you meet the qualifications (and I know that many of you do), then please consider applying to be a Mole in the Linden Department of Public Works!

Yes, you can be a Mole!