Probably the most frequent question I’ve been asked over the last year or so is “Who runs Linden Lab?”

It’s actually a very tough question to answer.

We’re not really talking about who defines the company organizationally and handles day-to-day running, but who is actually calling the shots strategically.

Corporations come in a few shapes and sizes. Sometimes the board makes all the strategic decisions. Sometimes it’s the cadre of vice-presidents. Other times it is the set (or a subset) of the company officers. Sometimes it is something different. Sometimes the CEO is in charge, and sometimes they’re strategically powerless. Every company works a little differently.

For the Lab, it used to be that most of the major decisions seemed to be made at the board level. Voice? Windlight? That was the board.

I’m inclined to think that it’s still the board, and that the executives have very little real impact on strategy.

Somewhere around 2007, though, something changed. The legal team at the Lab started to assert itself, and through the next few years, produced things like the gambling ban (multiple revisions), the new trademark policies (multiple revisions) and various revisions to the terms-of-service that some Lab executives said they were powerless to prevent or mitigate.

Clearly the execs were being overridden and the legal team was allowed its head.

Strategically, the Lab hasn’t shown any strategic changes since then (at least not from where I’m sitting… how about you?). So I’m assuming that the CEO’s role is mostly day-to-day grind and the important stuff is handed down from the board.

What do you think? Who’s been calling the shots?

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