Toomre Capital Markets LLC

Real-Time Capital Markets -- Analytics, Visualization, Event Processing, and Intelligence

Second Life and Corporate Virtual Presence

Toomre Capital Markets LLC ("TCM") associate Aldon Hynes has written several times about the increasingly popular virtual world call Second Life created by San Francisco-based Linden Labs. These postings include Virtual Foreign Exchange Trading and Building A Second Life Ticker Plant. Several finance professional peers have questioned why TCM has highlighted this 3-D virtual world. How does this virtual world relate to financial engineering, quantitative algorithms, risk management, credit derivatives, algorithmic trading, hedge funds or complex event processing they have asked? In short, Second Life does not directly relate -- yet.

Second Life is a 3-D, social networking, virtual world to which many younger, technically-savvy individuals are congregating. Many are attracted by what they can create in a virtual world and by the massively multiplayer on-line gaming. As a result, many of the Forbes 2000 Global organizations are setting up virtual presences in Second Life. Reuters has a virtual news bureau reporting on Second Life developments. Toyota sells in Linden dollars several versions of virtual automobiles. Computer services giant IBM has plunged into Second Life at the urging of its “metaverse evangelists” Roo Reynolds and Ian Hughes, using it as a location for meetings, training and recruitment.

According to this Reuters report from their Second Life news bureau, "IBM has embraced Second Life to an extent unmatched by any other major company — it has more than 230 employees spending time in-world, and it owns some half-dozen islands. Some are open to the public, but most are private, with restricted access for the public." IBM is already holding meetings and conducting development inside virtual worlds with about 20 major clients, including telecommunications and aerospace firms, a petroleum company that wants to use virtual worlds for training and “a major grocer in the UK” that wants to build a virtual store that will allow consumers to buy real-world groceries online. Other information technology firms like Dell, Cisco and Sun Microsystems have followed IBM's lead.

On Friday, February 16th, TCM client, Advanced Micro Devices ("AMD"), announced its Second Life presence. It has opened the AMD Dev Central Pavilion on the Dev Central Island in the virtual world of Second Life. The company said by having a presence on Second Life it is extending its developer outreach program into virtual space for meetings, lectures, training programs and networking opportunities for developers. The AMD Dev Central Island is located within the Second Life Dev Archipelago, which is a series of interconnected islands dedicated to the virtual developer community.

The AMD pavilion includes an auditorium, which is a formal place for tech chats between residents, as well as a display hall, meant as an exhibition area featuring interactive booths, banners and streaming videos. Paul Nolte, AMD's project manager and contributing builder for the AMD pavilion, said through the interactive virtual experience at the pavilion, the company hopes to provide developers with an outlet to learn and grow, such as helping them to optimize native code for multithreaded applications.

Toomre Capital Markets LLC foresees significant opportunities for financial organizations in these emerging virtual worlds. Aside from putting a "face" and character on what there organizations represent (and products and services they provide), there are significant educational, marketing and social networking (recruiting) opportunities. With time, we also foresee virtual-commerce opportunities emerging. Your thoughts and comments are welcome.