Second Life CTO Leaves Company

Cory Ondrejka, one of the first Linden Lab employees, left Tuesday after he differed with company founder and CEO Philip Rosedale on the future of Second Life.

Mitch Wagner, California Bureau Chief, Light Reading

December 12, 2007

3 Min Read

Cory Ondrejka, who led development for Linden Lab, the home of the Second Life virtual world, left Tuesday, according to a statement from the company.

"As it grows, the needs of our company are changing, and the role of CTO, or technical lead, has also evolved," said Linden Lab founder and CEO Philip Rosedale, in a statement. "Therefore, Cory and I are in agreement that our paths, at this point in time at least, lie in different directions." Rosedale said Ondrejka left "to pursue new professional challenges outside the company."

The Linden Lab statement doesn't say whether Ondrejka quit or was fired. Rosedale added that he wanted to "publicly thank Cory for his tremendous contribution to the company and to Second Life."

Massively, a virtual worlds and multiplayer gaming blog, reported that it had obtained copies of internal e-mails from Ondrejka and Rosedale announcing Ondrejka's departure.. According to the e-mail attributed to Rosedale, "Cory and I have differences in how we think Linden should be run, differences that in the past few months have become irreconcilable. These are tensions that were more manageable when we were smaller, and there have been times that they have helped us do great work together. But now, as we change and grow as a company, I feel that we need a different set of strengths in engineering leadership. I strongly believe that this is the right decision, although not without pain, for both LL and Cory."

Ondrejka was the fourth person to join Linden Lab, according to the Massively comments attributed to Rosedale.

"It has been an absolute thrill working with all of you on Second Life," according to the e-mail attributed to Ondrejka. "When Philip looked across a rickety card table in November of 2000 and told me that we would do more than build a great product, we needed to build a great company, too, I knew it would be a wild ride."

He added, "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."

One of Ondrejka's accomplishments was creating the Linden Scripting Language, the programming language used by Second Life content creators to control the behavior of objects in Second Life. Ondrejka liked to tell stories about how he created the language in a rush. "[N]ote to self, next time spend more than one night designing language," Ondrejka quips in the e-mail attributed to him on Massively.

Around 11.3 million Second Life accounts have been created since the virtual world went online four years ago, with 474,000 logins in the past seven days.

As one of the technology heads of Linden Lab, Ondrejka was in the focus of controversy about Second Life. The service is notoriously buggy and unstable, prone to frequent crashes, slowdowns, and outages. Although the service has been growing more stable recently, it still has problems. Linden Lab took Second Life down Tuesday morning to add data center capacity; that outage, scheduled to run from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m. Pacific time, instead extended past 2 p.m.

Linden Lab is working to improve Second Life stability and performance, upgrading the physics engine to Havok 4 and changing scripting to the Microsoft Mono platform.

Ondrejka could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

About the Author(s)

Mitch Wagner

California Bureau Chief, Light Reading

Mitch Wagner is California bureau chief for Light Reading.

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