Linden Lab, which operates the Second Life virtual world, has found a new CEO: Mark Kingdon, the longtime chief of Organic, an online ad agency. A bizarre move for Linden, and seemingly for Kingdon. Sophisticated marketers, having toyed with Second Life, agree that it's a nonstarter as an advertising medium. Linden Lab makes its money from serving as a virtual central bank and a taxing authority. IBM is interested in it largely as a substitute for teleconferencing. Philip Rosedale, the founder and outgoing CEO, is a dreamy technologist, but replacing him with an adman makes no sense. An enterprise-software salesman would have made more sense.
As for Kingdon, moving from Organic, a respected agency, to a much-derided startup, would seem a step down. "I'm interested in the whole notion of social computing in three dimensions," he told the Wall Street Journal. Nonsense; Kingdon is surely interested in money. Linden Lab may not be his meal ticket, but it is backed by Benchmark Capital, the powerful venture firm behind eBay. Kingdon's assignment will surely be to get Linden Lab sold, at which point Benchmark will likely reward him with a more promising CEO job. For that task, and that task alone, a silver-tongued marketer actually may fit the bill.