Ebbe Altberg

Yesterday, I found out that the Moles created a memorial for the late LL CEO Ebbe Altberg. It is located in the middle of a small, fir-covered islet in the Altberg region in Bellisseria. You can teleport directly there or, if you’re starting your journey from any of the nearby regions, you can moor your boat by the islet’s small cove and follow the stepped path to the small plateau where the memorial has been erected.

The Ebbe Altberg Memorial Islet, Altberg (Rated: Moderate)

No landing point has been set, so, at the end of this post, I’m giving you a landmark that takes you to the base of the stepped path. Once there, you see a bench made from tree logs, facing a large bronze statue of Ebbe’s Second Life avatar. The statue itself is placed on a small plaza made from boulders in the shape of the Second Life logo, and more specifically where the eye would be, and has a waterfall on one side behind it. Flowers are scattered on the plinth, which is surrounded by candles.

Ebbe Altberg’s Statue, Altberg (Rated: Moderate)

At the bottom of the plinth, a plaque, slanted upwards, reads:

Ebbe Altberg

1964 – 2021

Always in our hearts

Above the plaque, an open book has been sculpted on the plinth; on the left-hand page, there is Ebbe’s RL likeness, while on the page on the right one can read Patch Linden’s announcement of Ebbe’s passing.

Ebbe Altberg’s Statue, Altberg (Rated: Moderate)

It’s a touching, thoughtful move on behalf of the Lab’s personnel, which shows how much they valued Ebbe and recognised him as a true leader and a valued colleague and friend.

SLurl: Altberg (Rated: Moderate)

Flickr Album: https://flic.kr/s/aHsmVZCdxv

The late Ebbe Altberg at the 2015 Web Summit
The late Ebbe Altberg at the 2015 Web Summit in Dublin, Ireland – Image Credit: Web Summit

The first weekend of June wasn’t a good one for Linden Lab, Second Life, or for anyone who cares about either of them. LL’s CEO, Ebbe Altberg, passed away on Friday. His passing came as a shock to most people, although there was a certain amount of speculation, triggered the fact that he was largely absent from all sorts of social media during the past few months.

As we should expect, discussions as to who his successor should / could / will be, or – at least – what properties the new CEO should possess have already started to sprout like mushrooms on ageing trees in a damp forest. I can’t say such discussions are to my taste; for one, I think they started too soon, at a moment when others, closer to him, are still trying to deal with his passing. Furthermore, I find flaws in the more popular approaches, and the less said about the quality of discourse, the better. The popular argument says that the new CEO needs to be a long-time SL user, who has garnered a good deal of experience with the platform. The reasoning is that a CEO that is selected from the user base is somehow more likely to “get” Second Life than someone else.

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Ebbe Altberg, 1964-2021
Credit: Linden Research, Inc.

A few hours ago, Patch Linden announced the sad news of the passing of Ebbe Altberg, CEO of Linden Research, Inc.; sad news for all of us who care about Second Life, as he had earned the title of the best CEO Linden Lab has ever had, and this is no exaggeration. When he arrived in February 2014, he found the company and its flagship product in disarray.

His predecessor, Rod Humble (an Electronic Arts alumnus), had burnt many bridges of communication and collaboration with Third-Party Viewer developers. Although some PR stunts (such as an appearance on Draxtor Despres’ show) were employed to make him seem approachable and user-friendly, his tenure was marked by a deterioration of the relationship between the users and the company; his handling of the (in retrospect, mostly sensible) 2013 ToS changes was a massive PR fiasco, both internally, as many content creators became enraged, not entirely rightly) and externally, as it led to hostile announcements and (really quite abusive, if not borderline illegal) bans by CGTextures (now Textures.com), Renderosity, and Turbosquid.

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Ebbe Altberg, 1964-2021
Credit: Linden Research, Inc.

Today, the passing of Ebbe Altberg was officially announced by Patch Linden:

Hello, Community of Second Life

Second Life found new highs in 2020 between a worldwide pandemic taking grip, through the times of a tumultuous leadership change in the United States, and during movements of civil changes that will forever live in history books. Second Life provides many with the comfort of a normal that continues to exist for all of us, where many use it to escape real life pressures, stressors and day to day challenges.  In Second Life we can be our ideal, our best, celebrate all that is good across the world together.  Sadly we have also seen some people go, and they will never be forgotten as they touched us, gave us their best from their hearts, minds and souls – this thing called real life sometimes knocks on our door and makes a call.

This is one of those calls.

Ebbe Altberg started with Linden Lab as our CEO on February 5th, 2014.  He took the helm of the company and immediately went to work on reinvigorating our spirit and culture.  Ebbe brought a profound openness, and transparency in his operation which was key and that had many effects on all of us internally, and externally.  Lindens were encouraged to be part of the vibrant community in Second Life, to participate in and to cherish it as part of our daily duties.  Ebbe also worked internally on embracing all aspects of Second Life, learning about its many nuances to understand impacts of decisions we make; while being sensitive to those and utilizing all of our resources, which firstly included you, the community, and many of us who are deeply embedded in Second Life.  Ebbe’s goals for Second Life included promoting Second Life as the world’s best virtual world, community and platform.  He also sought new adventures in building next generation products.

As I am here before you today, it is with profound sadness that I share with you Ebbe passed away yesterday evening restfully and surrounded by the love of his family. 

I commit to all of you to carry forward with our mission of making Second Life the biggest, best, most vibrant virtual world that there ever can be.  Together, myself, Grumpity, and Brett, along with Oberwolf at the helm and the entire team, our mission is clear.  To grow Second Life and to ensure the Residents in Second Life continue to be respected and happy.

Rest in peace Ebbe, our fearless, kind, loving, gentle leader, and friend.

Patch Linden and The Linden Lab Team

These are indeed very sad news; Ebbe was, at least to my eyes, the best CEO Linden Lab ever had. He was methodical, hard-working, understood Second Life much better than most, and he also made it his priority to allow users to feel safe and welcome within this virtual world. He will be sorely missed. All I can say is that I’m truly shocked at his untimely death. Even from this little soapbox, I extend my sincerest condolences to his family, friends, and colleagues.

Goodbye, Ebbe. Goodbye. And thank you.

PS: I’ve written more on this here.

VWBPE logoYesterday, at VWBPE’s Second Life auditorium, Linden Lab CEO Ebbe Altberg (Ebbe Linden in-world) gave the opening keynote. The auditorium was packed – at various points, there were up to 170 people in-world with their avatars. Mal Burns recorded the speech and uploaded it to his YouTube channel so that it can be watched even by those who were unable to attend. As had happened last year, Gentle Heron was hard at work transcribing Mr. Altberg’s speech, and there was an interesting Q&A afterwards, with people from the audience having a chance to ask questions directly; I must give Mr. Altberg kudos for handling this task with great aplomb, and for his relaxed, approachable attitude towards the users who came to the venue to listen to him and ask about things they were interested in, w.r.t. Second Life and the next-generation virtual world platform that Linden Lab is developing.

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