The virtual world Second Life is losing one of it’s founders: controversial chief technology officer Cory Onrejka—known in-world as Cory Linden—will be leaving the company at the end of the year. Although Linden Labs’ CEO Philip Rosedale describs Onrejka’s departure as a move to “pursue new professional challenges out side the company,” both Onrejka and Rosedale have acknowledged the departure stems from differing visions of how Second Life and the Linden company should develop.
“The needs of our company are changing, and the role of CTO, or technical lead, has also evolved,” said CEO Rosedale, in a statement. “Cory and I are in agreement that our paths, at this point in time at least, lie in different directions.”
Onrejka was extremely influential in developing the Second Life virtual world; he was Linden Labs’ fourth employee, developed the in-world scripting language, designed and implemented major portions of the Second Life architecture, and was the leading advocate for enabling Second Life residents to retain intellectual property rights to their in-world creations; this, in turn, led to the development of a significant in-world e-commerce market, although a substantial amount of Second Life’s in-world economy is tied to sales of virtual land.
“I continue to believe in both Second Life and Linden Lab, but Philip and my visions for the future of Linden Lab are divergent enough that he decided to lead in his own way,” wrote Onrejka in an internal email message about his departure, along with “Note to self, next time spend more than one night designing language.”
Onrejka’s departure comes as Second Life has been facing increasing pressures from an influx of new residents, while simultaneously trying to maintain the virtual world’s technical stability and introduce new policies (like age verificationa and a ban on gambling) and new features (like a new physics engine and an atmospheric effects renderer dubbed Windlight). Second Life has also faced cultural growing pains, with so-called “griefers” finding ever-more-creative ways to disrupt in-world events and locations.
Onrejka was also well-known for appearing in-world as The Flying Spaghetti Monster, the “diety” from the humorous spoof of Intelligent Design known as Pastafarianism.
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