I had an interesting conversation with Jim Bruene (who’s blog you should definitely be reading) last week about Second Life, a “3-D virtual world entirely built and owned by its residents.” Second Life was opened to the public in 2003, so it’s not exactly new. However, its business implications have made for some explosive hype/conversation recently. And for all of you who are thinking “what a bunch of nerds”...touche. I thought the same thing. But I’ve gathered some stats that show the degree to which Second Life has broken out of the “dork-in-his-mom’s-basement” demographic: (some numbers will have changed after the posting of this article)
- There are currently 1,192,576 residents, and growing.
- $567,793, that’s real-live US dollars, spent in the last 24 hours.
- Wells Fargo was in SL over a year ago. They’ve since uprooted their “Stagecoach Island” presence to be its own world, independent from Second Life (a lame move, if you ask me).
- There are at least 3,000 entrepreneurs making $20,000 or more a year on SL businesses.
- Reuters has embedded a reporter, Adam Pasick, in SL. They also have an office.
- Mammoth ad agency Leo Burnett (clients include McDonald’s, Kellog’s, and Wrigley’s) has set up a SL idea hub, where its creatives can come collaborate. BBH, another hugely successful agency (clients include AXE, Smirnoff, and Levi’s), is also in SL.
- Crayon is a new marketing firm made up of impressive players located globally. They launched the company with Coca-Cola as a client. Their main office is in SL.
- Harvard Law has a class in SL, called CyberOne – Law in the Court of Public Opinion.
- Harvard Business Review moderated a marketing conference that happened in SL in June.
- SL has its own newspaper, called The Second Life Herald.
- SL has its own travel agency that will show you the hottest hot-spots for a price.
- A few companies with a commercial SL presence include:
- Vioxx gives you free in-SL phone minutes. You can call your mom from inside SL.
- IBM ran a live Wimbleton simulator on SL.
- SL has its own business magazine.
- The American Cancer Society raised over $30,000 in SL.
The more I see in Second Life, the more I realize that one of the most important business opportunities there is mining intentionality. This is a phrase my brilliant colleague Frank Comes came up with to describe what’s going in in that space. People in SL are expressing what they would LIKE to do in reality. For example, it’s easy to pimp your car in second life and clearly lots of people want to customize their transport there. All the major auto companies are piling into SL to learn about this—and build their big after-market customizing business in the real world.I’m not saying to run out and start a Second Life business or plant your business in Second Life. But join. Play around. This is another interaction tool, thriving community, and collaboration environment worth keeping an eye on.