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“If we were ineptly plodding along, why aren’t there any competitors that have wiped us out by now?” asked Philip Rosedale during a talk with Mitch Wagner recently.

I’ve been meaning to write a followup to that, because it’s a question that I know the answer to.

Simply put, investors don’t – as a rule – put capital into things that don’t look like they’re going to succeed.

The overall impression of the unique mix of factors in Second Life is not necessarily that it has failed, or is failing; but more that it defies success – that it has problems which may be insoluble and intractable.

Therefore, when other businesses are looking to compete with Second Life, they simply won’t compete with it on its own terms; terms they see as being significantly flawed.

From having spoken to people who’ve made such pitches as well as venture capitalists who’ve been approached with them, it tends to go something like this:

The Pitch The Pitch

(I didn’t have to make up any text in the second panel. That was a quote. This strip was originally published on Massively)

Make no mistake… if Linden Lab figures out how to get on top of certain issues (like scaling, general appeal, griefers and the like) there’d be no shortage whatsoever of people ready to pour money into emulating it.

Until that happens, though, the particular formula that makes Second Life unique is something few investors would want to touch with a ten-foot pole, let alone a capital investment. That means that any potential competitor is going to be operating at a tangent, and often a significant divergence from the Second Life model.

If you’re expecting Second Life’s competitors to generally follow Second Life’s model… well, you’ll hardly see much of that unless the Lab manages to find solutions to its problems.

Linden Lab’s persistent inability to overcome what are considered to be the major criticisms of Second Life are what keeps direct commercial competitors out of its way.

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