Second Life creator Linden Lab will lay off approximately 30 percent of its staff as part of a restructuring designed to improve its "geographic and cost efficiencies", and extend its virtual marketplace to browsers/mobile apps.
The San Francisco-headquarted company says it wants to increase focus on its consumer business and make investments that will make its virtual goods marketplace more accessible and popular with users through browser-based and mobile applications.
Its restructuring and 30 percent staff reductions will come as Linden Lab merges its product and engineering divisions, consolidates its software development teams in North America, and "reconfigures" its customer support group to provide more scalable services.
Founded in 1999, the company currently has some 350 workers across U.S., Europe, and Asia. Though many other virtual worlds have been in decline in the past year, Second Life's population has actually grown
, reaching its monthly unique user peak in March at 826,000 users, a 13 percent year-over-year jump.
The virtual world company also recently reported a record quarter for user-to-user transactions in Second Life for the first three months of 2010, as those transactions reached $160 million, a 30 percent increase over the amount recorded during the same period last year.
Linden Lab says that this restructuring better aligns the company with two longer-term goals aimed at making Second Life more accessible and relevant: creating a browser-based virtual world experience (thus eliminating the need to download software), and extending the virtual world to popular social networks.
"We've emerged from a two-year investment period during which, among other things, we've spent a considerable amount of time improving reliability and the overall user experience," says Linden Lab CEO Mark Kingdon.
He adds, "Today's announcement about our reorganization will help us make Second Life even simpler, more enjoyable, relevant and engaging for consumers starting with their first experience. It will also enable us to invest in bringing 3D to the web and will strengthen our profitability."