Staring into the SL Dark: Business Ed.

In June, of about 42,597 businesses operating in Second Life, just over 81% generated less than US$50 per month according to Second Life's own figures.
  • Residents Logged-In During Last 7 Days 440,873
  • Residents Logged-In During Last 14 Days 599,586
  • Residents Logged-In During Last 30 Days 934,366
  • Residents Logged-In During Last 60 Days 1,474,362
  • Total Residents 9,817,835
  • Est. Initial Churn Rate : 85%

I would estimate that there are at least two and possibly 5, ave. 3.5 alts per real account for a total of 9.8/3.5 = 2.8 M total actual accounts. Of those, I would offer that a good third are inactive based on (tier 2) churn rate. ; 2.8 - .93 = 1.9 M actual accounts.

Less than one half of one percent of businesses (132 businesses) generated more than US$5000 of revenue. It's impossible to know whether these businesses actually made profits, since we don't know what their costs were.

What intrigues me most is the character and composition of those accounts left over is that there are several who utilize the space heavily; there was a significant hit on the user population when gambling was outlawed. SL chose to reconfigure their website so that the statistics don't look so obvious.

From the business angle, Gartner singled out Second Life as an "uncontrolled virtual world" where there is significant risk to brands that are sensitive to social and ethical positioning. SL requires download of unverified applications to managed desktop systems in corporate environments. New accounts can be opened with ease, and at no cost; many individuals have multiple avatars. The difficulty arises in online collaboration where corporations consider "private" virtual-world environments, which are hosted internally and exist entirely inside the enterprise firewall. This is the drive behind the second life "grid" (at least in part).

Worldwide legal systems, especially in the US, have become increasingly aggressive in demanding access to electronically stored records. Enterprises that are sensitive to brand and reputation issues should consider confining their activities to controlled virtual environments to minimize, but not eliminate, their potential exposure. Productivity may decline during the extensive learning and adoption phases of virtual worlds, but this shouldn't prevent enterprises from looking beyond the initial phases toward the productivity benefits that may ensue. I never store any of my chat records, at least any that don't relate to a business record.

I have been involved in situations where there was mass annhilation of user accounts; where money laundering was found out to have occurred. I've tracked down people griefing an online university and .. corrected them.. and also helped finger underage residents. I have seen businesses start and fall in the short space of my time online.

For me, SL is a tool to enhance human communication. It is an experimental space. The people who stay in are generally pretty interesting. I've met some of them RL and I like them, but then I generally travel in fairly comfortable circles. With few exceptions almost everyone I've happened across in my life I've had a tendency to find something positive. That said, its imperative to realize that denizens of SL are usually an elite bunch. Beware for how many you would meet that have no life, and are using SL to replace their first. Many that I have met are ok in that regard. Read the profile. They can help you out a bit.

If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.