Linden Labs, the parent company of the most successful virtual world, is laying people off, according to The Wall Street Journal.
If you're not a Second Lifer, then virtual worlds may sometimes seem a little puzzling to you. Linden Labs (founded in 1999) started Second Life in 2003 – seven years ago this month. The virtual world has been wildly successful. About 18 million peple have Second Life accounts. At any given moment close to 40 thousand of them are playing the game – which has it's own currency (Linden Dollars) that is exchangeable for US dollars. In other words, you can put money into the game to help you play, and you can make money in the game, and you can transfer money you make back out of the game to your real world bank account…
For the last few years many analysts have looked at Second Life as something of a barometer for the larger virtual economy. What is the virtual economy? The Internet has developed to a point where people buy and sell items that online exist in cyberspace. When you buy yourself a house in a game like Farmville (many Facebook users will be familiar with the game), that's virtual economic activity. Like Second Life (and many other games), you can make purchase with money you earned in the game – or you can put real money into the game and buy game (or virtual) money.
Don't confuse the virtual economy with e-commerce. There's nothing virtual about buying a real lamp with real money on eBay, at from the websites of Wal-Mart or Target.
While the virtual economy is still booming, it may now have to find a new barometer….