Friday, June 25, 2010

The Return of the King : Management Changes at LL Now Official

Only a rumor yesterday, Linden Labs now officially said in a press release that former CEO M Linden (Mark Kingdon) stepped down and has been replaced by the company founder Phillip Linden (Phillip Rosedale).

Phillip Linden addressed the community with a blog post, thanking M Linden (Kingdon) for his contributions to the company.

There are a couple of things I'd like to point out here: first the official company press release says that Phillip is the "interim" CEO, not the "new" CEO.  This, after all, is the same board that forced Phillip out of the company two years ago, so there may still be some tension there.  Also, Bob Komin has been moved to the position of COO.

Here's my take on things:  Rosedale is an incredible guy, but he's a hippie.  His "unconventional" business methods annoy the owners of the company, even though they recognize there would be no company without him, so they were only comfortable with his return if they moved Komin up to COO, taking the day-to-day reins of the business, while Rosedale does his visionary thing.

Like the departing Kingdon, Komin is the more traditional suit-and-tie MBA type that investors love, but customers often hate and distrust.  Most companies really do need a guy like this to keep the flock from stumbling off the edge of reality and keep the lights on in the office.

I can't tell if the board is signaling future changes by adding the word "interim" to the announcement of Rosedale's return.  I do get the impression that things are moving very fast over on Battery Street, though.  Kingdon clearly thought he was giving a speech at this years birthday event earlier this week and the "emergency" that prevented it might have been a phone call saying he was canned the night before his speech.

It may be the board is searching for another CEO and just brought Rosedale in as place holder while they interview candidates or it may be they used the word "interim" just because things were moving so fast, they wanted to make sure they had crossed their t's and dotted their i's before naming Rosedale the official boss.   Rosedale had another company at the time of the announcement (The Love Machine) and I don't know if  he intends to head both companies or what.

A lot of times, when a board has to fire somebody, you'll see them bring in a temporary replacement to hold things together and let the dust settle before they bring in the final replacement.  I can't tell if Rosedale's return is just temporary or not.  I can't even tell if he wants to be the permanent replacement.

Rosedale is a visionary, an artist in the medium of computer code and corporate structure, and sometimes guys like that are incredibly difficult to work with.  Something like SecondLife is impossible without somebody like him at the center though, so I hope the board understands this and decides to work with Rosedale instead of replacing him, and maybe moving Komin to the position of COO is just the right kind of compromise..

The SL Blogosphere is buzzing with yesterday's news.  You can find links to many of the stories to the right of this blog.  As usual, Profky Neva is verbose and vitriolic and fails to make any useful point, but most others are generally optimistic about the changes at Linden Labs and see this move as a necessary thing. 

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