To add to the fun we had at our book party this weekend, Daniel Terdiman is throwing a party of his own, to celebrate the publication of his own book, The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Second Life. If you’re around San Francisco this Wednesday (Nov. 7), crash the party at the CNET offices, where Dan works, pick up a copy of the book, and check out all you ever wanted to know about making money in the metaverse. Rather than the usual thin gloss on selling prim skirts, the book actually takes a deep dive into the process of building and running a business in the virtual world of Second Life, covering everything from laying foundations and writing a business plan, to entering the fashion world, the real estate business, the virtual construction trade, the “adult” industry and even running a business on SL’s teen grid. I know Dan worked his ass off on this one, and it shows. Check it out for yourself and let me know if you agree.
Turner Broadcasting System has signed a one-year deal to use Kaneva to build out virtual-world extensions of its entertainment properties, according to a press release. “The agreement will grant Turner access to Kanevaâ€™s technology and tools to create and use Web communities and Virtual Spaces on the Kaneva Web site and in the virtual world of Kaneva. Each Turner Web Community and corresponding Virtual World space inside Kaneva will be enabled with embedded video players for video streaming of select Turner network content. One of the foregoing Turner Virtual Spaces will be an external space that will link to the other Turner Virtual Spaces, as well as other areas within Kanevaâ€™s Virtual World.”
It’s interesting to see a year-long deal being signed in this way. I’m not sure that’s been done before. Most of the projects we’ve seen so far has been one-offs, or involve the purchase and/or licensing of software.
Full release below: Continue reading
Just got this press release:
UK rock band Oasis is opening its official online space in the virtual world Second Life (SL) this Monday, September 24, and is kicking off with a preview of its latest release, a feature-length-plus, limited edition double DVD entitled â€˜Lord Donâ€™t Slow Me Downâ€™. The facility â€“ built for Oasis in Second Lifeâ€™s â€˜New Horizonâ€™ business park â€“ is a joint venture between SL developer New Business Horizons and SL media producer Phoenix Film & Television.
From Monday, visitors can watch the DVDâ€™s trailer as they browse around the space, pick up free goodies such as a virtual t-shirt and coffee table book, have a look at stills from the production and pre-order the double DVD itself for real world delivery by Amazon. The real world release of â€˜Lord Donâ€™t Slow Me Downâ€™ is scheduled for October 29, 2007 by Big Brother Recordings in the UK and Big Brother Recordings/Universal internationally. Continue reading
CMP Technology has become “the first global media company to be certified by Linden Labs as a full-service content developer in Second Life,” according to a press release. (Though maybe Linden Lab should be careful that their certified devs at least spell the name of the company correctly.) CMP, of course, runs the annual Game Developers Conference and the Austin Game Developers Conference (which leans more toward MMOs and virtual worlds), as well as a number of Web 2.0 and other tech events, and publishes sites like Gamasutra and publications like Game Developer and Information Week. CMP is now bringing the virtual world into its media offerings: “CMP’s metaverse division will work with customers to create unique builds and events that promote deep engagement and nurture community. The division will integrate Second Life and the web to reach global markets while leveraging CMP’s trusted brands to acquire highly-qualified audiences and bring them inworld.”
Does this spell the beginning of stiffer competition for outfits like the Electric Sheep Company, Millions of Us, Rivers Run Red and others? It has seemed to be only a matter of time before big media companies got into the metaverse services space in a big way; CMP’s entry may be the early sign of a coming wave. Other firms with global reach (Edelman, for one) are already operating in Second Life (despite the “first” claim in CMP’s release), and it seems logical that such firms would expand their operations to produce campaigns for this new medium. It will be interesting to see how the “native” firms react to increased competition. I’m still waiting for a big media company to absorb one of the main metaverse services companies. If the market holds up (a big if, but not huge one), I imagine it’s only a matter of time before that happens. CMP’s entry into the space could well accelerate the process.
The Electric Sheep Company (which sponsors 3pointD) yesterday launched its new shopping site for the virtual world of
I’m still catching up from flying across the country today, but I have to post this one, since it’s pretty big news. Virtual world services and marketing firm Millions of Us has struck a partnership with Gaia Online, which bills itself as “the Web’s
fastest-growing hangout for teens.” According to a press release, the partnership is “designed to bring new advertising clients to both parties while providing Millions of Us with an additional community in which to conduct campaigns.” That’s pretty significant stuff, since Gaia, which boasts an active membership of more than two million, is not an open platform, as is the virtual world of Second Life, where Millions got its start — along with 3pointD’s sponsor, the Electric Sheep Company, and firms like Rivers Run Red and Infinite Visions Media. The press release doesn’t say whether the partnership is exclusive to Millions of Us, but it does open a new world to Millions that its competitors don’t currently have access to. Congrats to Reuben and co. Full press release reprinted below. Continue reading
Jordan Bigel (aka Second Life‘s Dire Lobo) of metaverse development company InWorld Studios sends along the news that his company is launching a new movie service for the virtual world of Second Life. Set to premiere this Friday, 11 May, the service is known as InWorld Cinema and has some interesting features — and is opening with a full-length feature film. Audience members occupy individual “vPods” and access scenes or chapters within the film via a heads-up display. Tickets cost L$260 (about US$1) and let you spend as much time watching the movie in as many visits as you like over a 48-hour period. Continue reading
Gideon May, Birgit Frenzel and Dirk Lusebrink (l to r) of I-D Media, the team behind Lifecrawler
Faithful readers may recall the Lifecrawler service I blogged about a couple of weeks ago, which looked like it would give users the chance to put a streaming Second Life window on their Web page. I had the opportunity to meet up with the team behind it while I was in Berlin, and learned a bit more about what’s planned for the service and the company behind it while we hung out surrounded by techie hipsters at the Sankt Oberholz on the edge of Prenzlauerberg. Lifecrawler is the project of a small R&D team within German marketing agency I-D Media who’ve been given more or less free rein to start pushing into the virtual world of Second Life. Though they’re just starting out in the virtual services space, I-D Media plans to leverage the company’s 20-year track record in marketing to bring new and existing clients into the virtual world. Besides the streaming service, the team is also designing a metrics package that will be offered to clients. Continue reading
Scarlett Johansson line on sale in Second Life
Justin Bovington of Rivers Run Red sends word that his company is working with Adidas Reebok to bring Reebok’s Scarlett Johansson clothing line to the virtual world of Second Life. The sporty Scarlett <3s Rbk line (featuring a more stylized heart, to be sure) was designed in concert with the actress, and it sounds like selections are already available in SL's »Reebok« region. “More content will be introduced frequently,” Justin says.
What’s interesting about this to me is the level of sustained commitment it shows on the part of Reebok, which has been kicking around in Second Life since last August. The company apparently feels its Second Life experience has been enough of a success in its first six months to continue its involvement. Is there a strong community growing around the Adidas and Reebok brands in Second Life? No idea. But it seems the company feels there is at least the potential, which is a nice vote of confidence on their part, and another indication that it is not just the geekcore that sees a powerful many-to-many media platform emerging from virtual worlds.
The nose knows nothing in virtual worlds, but that hasn’t stopped Calvin Klein from launching a virtual version of their new ck IN2U fragrances for men and women in Second Life, according to a press release. The virtual launch accompanies the real-world launch of the same scents today, March 21. Since avatars can’t smell, the virtual perfume bottles will enable SL users to spray each other with bubbles that “initiate dialogue,” as the release puts it — probably requesting the sprayee to engage in a Calvin Klein animation. There will also be “graffiti bottles” available from the Calvin Klein build, put together by Justin Bovington’s Rivers Run Red on their Avalon island in Second Life, where Calvin Klein is holding a L$1 million photography contest to accompany the launch. Finally, if you’re in the UK you’ll be able to click through to a Web site and order a free sample. Continue reading
Well, the Electric Sheep Company‘s Jerry Paffendorf starts off his South by Southwest with this years First Geeksleeper of the Year award, for having the presence of mind to snap the shot at left, which shows fellow Sheep Meg McGrath dozing off while the rest of the crew partied on around her. If you’re not familiar with the grand tradition of the geeksleep (as if anyone could have missed this cultural imperative that has swept the nation over the last 12 months), dial on back to geeksleep #1, which was taken by me at last year’s SXSW. What is geeksleeping, I hear you ask? According to the description I posted on Flickr back then, it’s the following:
Geeksleep: (noun) 1. the act of sleeping during a technology conference or while involved in any geek-like activity. 2. sleep performed by anyone who could be described as a geek. (verb) 1. to capture a geeksleeper on camera and post his/her picture to Flickr with the “geeksleep” tag.
Seems Jerry’s new geeksleep hasn’t had a chance to make it into the Geeksleep stream yet, but no matter. Congratulations are due, and you can give them personally if you wander over to the Electric Sheep booth in the Screenburn arcade. Meanwhile, get your geeksleep on. Shouldn’t be hard for the assembled to get at least one more of these a day up on Flickr for the rest of the week. If not, it means you’re not partying hard enough in the evenings.
An anoymous reader just sent me a link to this YouTube video of a replica, built in the virtual world of Second Life, of Apple‘s glass cube store on New York’s Fifth Avenue. Keep in mind there were earlier reports of an Apple store in Second Life, but those didn’t show anything half as elaborate as the build on display in the video, which also features fairly high production values for machinima. I’m in Austin at SXSW and can’t get into Second Life very well on this laptop in this hotel, so I can’t go check out what’s at the old location, and there’s no location given for the store in the video. However, the video does end with production credits, and they don’t give any indication of whether or not Apple is actually involved. The video is credited to metaverse services firm AxisVR LLC, which advertises a number of interesting services but doesn’t provide a client list. (I’ve never heard of them before, but that doesn’t mean much.) 3pointD wagers that the new Apple store, which looks very well built out in the video, might have been built out by Apple employees, but hasn’t been approved by Apple’s legal beagles. That or it’s AxisVR spending a lot of time and effort to angle for a highly unlikely contract from Apple. We wonder whether the SL store will be manned 24 hours a day, as the New York location is.
I hadn’t realized how heavy a presence 3pointD’s sponsors, the Electric Sheep Company, would have at this year’s South by Southwest Interactive conference until I read Jerry’s post yesterday describing what they’re doing here. For one thing, they’re going to stream the Screenburn conference-within-a-conference on games and virtual worlds, at which both Jerry and myself are moderating panels, into the virtual world of Second Life. That’s nice stuff for anyone unable to attend, since it’s (relatively) easy to grab a free Second Life account, teleport over to »Sheep Island«, and watch the fun. The Sheep will also have a booth at the Screenburn expo on Saturday and Sunday, where Adam Pasick, the Second Life correspondent for Reuters (a Sheep client) will be conducting some interviews. Check it out.
[UPDATE: Well, that’ll teach me. The Sheep’s appearance on the Today show has not been put off again. Sibley is now scheduled to appear Friday morning. Maybe. I think the next time I blog about this it’ll be after the fact.] The appearance of Sibley Verbeck, CEO of the Electric Sheep Company, on NBC’s Today Show, originally scheduled for last week, has now been rescheduled
to this Thursday, March 1. Tune in between 8:00am and 10:00am Eastern (5:00am – 7:00am SL Time) to check him out.
Reuters has the news that the Electric Sheep Company (sponsors of this blog) will be getting a $7 million round of investment from CBS and Gladwyne Partners (the latter having invested in a previous round). Sheep CEO Sibley Verbeck tells the news agency, “Electric Sheep plans to use the financing to create software to make virtual worlds ready for mainstream consumption.” Nice going, guys. In fact, I was mentioning something like this idea at Friday’s metaverse meetup. Virtual worlds to this point have been the province of people coming out of the gamedev community, for the most part. I really see them as more of a media convergence phenomenon. Which means that media companies, which have been serving “entertainment experiences” to huge audiences for decades — and have massive bankrolls to show for it — are going to be huge players in the space, before long. Or even sooner.
It looks like the Electric Sheep Company (sponsors of this blog) are getting ready to bring authors from Random House’s Bantam Dell imprint to the virtual world of Second Life. I was poking around the Grid today and dropped in on Sheep Island, where I spotted a Bantam Dell building just outside Sheep Tower. The inside is all set up for what looks like a reading or Q&A, the featured author being best-selling thriller writer Dean Koontz. While this could just be a test build, the Bantam Dell logo is slapped all over everything, and the place looks ready for a bunch of literary-minded avatars to show up and pelt Koontz with questions. I don’t have much information other than that, just a few screenshots, which you can check out after the jump. Continue reading
Call me Mad Dog Winters. (I’ll explain in a sec.) The Mini Cooper, everyone’s favorite cute little British car, is teaming up with Reuben Steiger’s Millions of Us to bring a cool-sounding promotion for the new Cooper S to the virtual world of Second Life. The thing I especially like about this project is that it offers a contest/game that’s played not just in SL, but on a handful of Web 2.0 sites as well, which, as regular readers know, is one of my favorite kinds of mashups. Continue reading
Dutch bankers ING, in partnership with metaverse services company Rivers Run Red, are getting ready to set up a virtual Holland within the virtual world of Second Life. While the OurVirtualHolland project’s Web site doesn’t say how many sims it will cover, it sounds a substantial project, featuring Dutch architecture, landscapes, windmills, tulip fields, and even deltaworks, as well as what sounds like a virtual Formula 1 racetrack. (ING is the title sponsor of the ING Renault Formula 1 team.) Residents will be able to own land and run businesses there (i.e., it’s a place designed to attract residents, not just visitors), and the virtual Holland will come complete with its own third-party registation site and orientation experience. The project will be built and opened in stages, but ING notes, “We expect a first release to be ready in weeks not months.” Continue reading
CNet’s Dan Terdiman has a nice story on the winners of the business plan contest in Second Life that just wrapped up, which was put on by Edelman and the Electric Sheep Company (sponsors of this blog). Top prize was taken by Market Truths, which plans “a market research and analysis system to help real-world companies figure out what works and what doesn’t in the burgeoning virtual world.” They walk away with six months of free access to a private island, plus L$350,000 in prize money (a little over US$1,000). I’ve been a big fan of this contest for some time, so I’ll be interested to see what Market Truths can do with their new venture. I’d also love to see a small VC fund that backed virtual business ideas. A few thousand bucks tossed in that direction could go a long way, I think. [UPDATE: The Business Communicators of SL blog has a good interview up with Pebble Hannya of Market Truths.]
In the space of two days, Linden Lab, maker of the virtual world of Second Life, has made three separate announcements that indicate trouble may be on the horizon for the company — if it hasn’t already arrived. Two of them have raised renewed alarms about the platform’s scalability. Though CEO Philip Rosedale blithely assured the world last summer that Second Life could “scale to inifinity,” he seemed to be the only one who believed such an absurd claim. The skeptics are now being proven correct. And instead of concentrating all of its firepower on solving the current problem, the Lab is also casting about for ideas on how to beef up its 2D Web interface — despite the fact that any number of developers large and small are already working on the same thing. Is trouble ahead? It sure smells like it. Read on for our conclusions as to why. Though this post may be overly alarmist, to a certain extent, we’re looking at serious issues here. Take it with a grain of salt, but not too big a grain. Continue reading
Vodafone‘s island in the virtual world of Second Life has now opened to the public, according to Justin Bovington, head of Rivers Run Red, the virtual-world services company that produced the mobile phone company’s in-world presence. The »Vodafone« region seem similar to AOL’s presence in terms of the density of activities provided there, if not programming. There’s ice-skating to be had, high-board diving, butterfly rides and more, and users can upload their own pics that are shown on displays around the skating rink, which is a nice feature. See the YouTube clip above for a quick tour of the island. Vodafone is also giving away “water coolers” that are updated periodically with new free toys. I don’t think the voice services they’ve talked about are in place yet, but they’ve at least bandied about the idea that they’ll provide some back-end voice support for Second Life. Linden Lab, however, is very near to providing native voice support, we hear.
I missed it, unfortunately, but I’m told CBS just aired a promo spot for its Monday-night comedy Two And A Half Men during the SuperBowl pre-game show. What’s special about that? The spot was a machinima promo, shot in the virtual world of Second Life (as far as I know), and produced by the Electric Sheep Company (sponsors of this blog), who CBS president and CEO Les Moonves gave a big shout-out to at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. I’m interested because pre-game exposure during the SuperBowl megacast (it’s the most watched sporting event of the year) is nothing to sniff at, and pushes virtual worlds that much further into mainstream America’s consciousness. SuperBowl commercials are the most expensive airtime on television, and are closely scrutinized each year for new trends in marketing and promotions. It’s basically the TV advertising agencies’ equivalent of Sweeps Week, when networks trot out the best of their new material. So having a machinima spot run even during the pre-game show is pretty hot stuff. A quick search on YouTube didn’t turn up anything about it yet, unfortunately.
AOL’s sticky wall at AOL Pointe
The AOL Pointe project, AOL‘s presence in the virtual world of Second Life (which we published a sneak peek at on Friday), has its official opening today, and the early notices are very favorable. Hiro Pendragon weighs in on the variety of activities available there, while the Second Life Insider has a great pictorial tour. I’ve taken the liberty of borrowing their shot (see above) of AOL’s “sticky wall,” which seems to be everyone’s favorite feature. Credit here goes to the Electric Sheep Company (sponsors of this blog), who seem to have done quite a job of dreaming up diversions for Second Life residents new and old. There are also quite a few events listed on this months AOL Pointe calendar. Continue reading
Adrienne Haik of virtual-world services firm Metaversatility passes on the YouTube clip above, an interview on Channel 4’s Richard & Judy show with three Second Life residents: Fizik Baskerville (aka Rivers Run Red‘s Justin Bovington), Slim Warrior (aka musician Leo Wolff) and Errol Mysterio (aka author Tim Guest who’s written a book about his Second Life experience). It’s nothing much new, but it’s an interesting 10 minutes. Fizik perhaps overstates SL’s current economic power (and refers to Rivers as “the content-creation company for Second Life”). Most interesting to me are the reactions of Richard and Judy, the show’s hosts. They do a great job of representing the mainstream wonder about virtual worlds, without being overly lurid. Richard, especially, has some learning to do: I love how he refers to his avatar at one point (toward the end) as a “program” and then soon after that as a “site.” The paradigm has yet to shift for some.
Second Life resident Cory Edo of the Electric Sheep Company (sponsors of this blog) has an interesting entry on the blog chronicling the construction of Starwood Hotels‘ new aloft line of hotels (from which I’ve lifted the image above. It seems that feedback from visitors to the virtual hotel will be incorporated into the design of the real thing, due to open next year. When the project originally launched, Starwood wasn’t sure whether they’d incorporate such feedback. Nice to see them recognize the value of resident feedback, and to see that they’ve found a way to use a viritual world to improve their products in the real world. Just what revisions are being made is being kept under wraps for the moment, but they’ll be reflected in the virtual model first, so check back at the aloft blog or in-world. You can’t get into the aloft sim at the moment, but you can get a long-distance view from the neighboring »Argali region«.
Another one that dropped while I was away, but which Giff has just reminded me of: The New Media Consortium, which set up shop in the virtual world of Second Life sometime back, has announced that it has established a new services unit, NMC Virtual Worlds, to cater to “educational institutions wishing to explore, build, or establish a presence in a range of virtual worlds.” NMC itself is a non-profit consortium of more than 225 research and educational institutions, so it will be interesting to see what kind of virtual world educational initiatives the organization can catalyze both within its own ranks and in the broader educational realm. While there’s only one project on their portfolio page at the moment, NMC is apparently working with Second Life creator Linden Lab to create a specialized new-user experience for educators, and is already working with a number of groups within SL. (See the announcement for more details.) Services will also be offered for 3D online spaces like Croquet. We look forward to learning what they come up with.
News that Irish comedian Jimmy Carr would do a stand-up gig in the virtual world of Second Life apparently didn’t raise enough eyebrows for virtual-world services firm Fusion Unity Ltd., which has just issued another press release for the February 3 event. But checking in at the company’s Web site (from which the image above was lifted), reveals something strange: almost nowhere on the site is Second Life referred to as Second Life; instead, it’s re-branded as The Metaverse throughout, except in a couple of press releases on the news page.
The site almost makes it sound like Fusion Unity built the virtual world itself — though it avoids actually making that claim (a move that seems better thought out than the spelling on the site). The page describing real-world simulations also seems slightly misleading, featuring Linden Lab‘s prim oil rig in SL’s ANWR region as an example of a simulation of a hazardous real-world location.
Fusion Unity’s merits as a design team — which may be formidable, for all I know — are difficult to untangle from its obfuscation of the virtual world’s origins. (Do I smell a debate between Virtual Creationists and Virtual Darwinists brewing?) But one thing that’s interesting to note is that Linden Lab founder and CEO Philip Rosedale has never had any problem with co-opting his customers’ creations as part of his PR efforts, often speaking about the fact that his company has the largest content-creation team in the world working for it. Is this kind of turnabout fair play? Or is it a matter for the DMCA?
Virtual world services company Rivers Run Red forwards a press release from Talpa Digital about the DropZone project the two are producing in the virtual world of Second Life. Covering four SL regions, DropZone will host a festival stage, virtual skydiving, an area for viewing television programs piped into the virtual world, and a nightclub called Mundo, which will be the virtual arm of the Dutch dating site of the same name. In addition, “Talpa Digital is currently developing a unique technology for a virtual world version of Skoeps, the new citizen journalism site in the Netherlands. Offering the residents a chance to send in their Second Life skoep to huge billboards throughout this virtual world.” (Or at least, throughout the DropZone sims.) Perhaps more significantly, energy drink Red Bull will use the DropZone “to introduce their athletes in a live chat with their fans and to stream extreme sport events.” Continue reading
A press release from new-media marketers the Virtual Interactive Agency flags a new project they’re putting up in the virtual world of Second Life, in cooperation with something called the Ohio University Virtual Campus, which seems to have a few sims in SL. The new project is a “virtual security pavilion” that will house displays and demos by information security companies during a “virtual business fair” to be held February 5-14. The site mentions a conference fee of a whopping US$3,700, but that seems to include the Virtual Interactive Agency building out your booth for you. A limited number of billboards will also be available at US$425 each. In any case, it’s an interesting project. One wonders whether the firms represented there will address information security on the Web, in Second Life, or in some combination of the two. It will also be interesting to see whether a compelling event can be organized in this way, by presenting a conference center and then asking people to show up, rather than the other way round.
Your Sears kitchen in Second Life
IBM, which recently set up a business group to explore possibilities in virtual worlds — and earmarked millions of dollars for the effort — is now bringing mega-retailer Sears to the virtual world of Second Life in a project to be announced today, 8 January, at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. SL resident Ultravox Freeman, aka Mike Rowe, a senior project manager on IBM’s digital convergence team, was kind enough to give me a tour of the Sears build over the weekend.
Though the build is still a work in progress, Rowe said, each of the floors will present different possibilities for taking advantage of a 3D online world like Second Life for showing off Sears products and giving consumers more functionality than they could get from a flat Web page. Furthest along seemed to be the Kitchen and Appliances floor (pictured above), which currently allows visitors to re-color and re-texture the various appliances and surfaces of the virtual kitchen on display. The plan is to allow a customer to import their own kitchen design to the virtual space, fit it out with Sears products, and be able to move around in it as they would a real kitchen in order to get a feel for how the products would work in their kitchen at home. Continue reading
Metaverse development company Rivers Run Red will open a California studio this Friday, January 5, according to Rivers CEO Justin Bovington. With a staff of seven and headed by a fellow names Ben James, Rivers’ west-coast operation will be located in San Francisco and will cater to the company’s existing clients, including Adidas , and also work on “a number of projects which have called for a global team presence.” (The company is based in London.) This is another indicator that the flow of virtual projects is not slowing yet and in fact is only growing. Whether that’s sustainable or just a temporary trend is a matter of hot debate elsewhere in the metaversal blogosphere at the moment, but for now it seems that the people who earn their livings bringing new corporate entrants into virtual worlds are doing just fine.