Philip Rosedale

Philip Rosedale

Founder of Second Life and High Fidelity Inc. Obsessed with VR.

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON November 23, 2015

Discussion

Philip Rosedale
Philip Rosedale@philiprosedale
Hi! I'm Philip Rosedale, founder of Second Life and co-founder and CEO of High Fidelity. We're building an open source platform for distributed VR... looking forward to talking about it all and answering any questions I can.
Justin Cauchon
Justin Cauchon@cauchon · Product Manager, CNET
What are your thoughts on the future of Second Life?
Philip Rosedale
Philip Rosedale@philiprosedale
@cauchon SL is doing new and different interesting things than High Fidelity. I think SL's future is bright as well, especially as the HMD's come into the market and make it easy to go there.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
Philip! Welcome. Knowing what you know today, what would you have changed when building Second Life?
Philip Rosedale
Philip Rosedale@philiprosedale
@rrhoover Hard to say. I/we were super early. SL has been incredibly successful (1M users, close to $1B/year in digital goods transactions) despite the challenge of doing such deep 3D on a screen/mouse/keyboard with the computers of the time. The minimum spec machine for the launch of SL in 2003 had same power as the iPhone 5! I think maybe if I had it to do over again, I'd have less tried to market it like a 'super-game' and more like the diverse set of experiments and things it became.
Ryan Hoover@rrhoover · Founder, Product Hunt
@philiprosedale WOW! I didn't realize you were generating that much revenue. Insane.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@philiprosedale thanks for being here today 🙌 During your career to date, what has been your a) most challenging moment and how did you overcome it? b) proudest moment and why? c) most surprising moment?
Philip Rosedale
Philip Rosedale@philiprosedale
@ems_hodge Second Life almost didn't make it - we were nearly out of money and so we all got together in a room and talked it out. There were 31 of us and in the end we laid off 11 people to try and last a little longer. I had every single one of those meetings face to face, that same day. That was my hardest moment and also one of the proudest. Second Life was always surprising - there were lots of those moments! A guy started abducting people in SL by dressing up as an Alien and tractor beaming them up into a spaceship at the 'welcome area' where new people came in. Wired wrote about it, and we started getting lots of press. That was weird and surprising.
Kayla Cobb
Kayla Cobb@cobbkayla
@philiprosedale @ems_hodge "A guy started abducting people in SL by dressing up as an Alien and tractor beaming them up into a spaceship at the 'welcome area' where new people came in. Wired wrote about it, and we started getting lots of press. That was weird and surprising." That was Ope Rand :D
Mauro Velazquez
Mauro Velazquez@maurovelazquezz · Co-Founder @Coinding @500Startups
What are your favorite VR experiences that people can currently have with commercially available software + hardware?
Philip Rosedale
Philip Rosedale@philiprosedale
@maurovelazquezz Playing with physical objects together in a room while talking to other people. The combo of hand controllers and HMD are the minimal viable parts list for VR.
Thelle Christensen
Thelle Christensen@thellek · co-founder
@philiprosedale @maurovelazquezz what game/experience are you referring to?
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
What was your initial drive and inspiration behind starting both companies? What advice would you give to anyone just starting out their own business?
Philip Rosedale
Philip Rosedale@philiprosedale
@ems_hodge I think it is useful to think about companies that compete with or improve an existing experience, versus those companies that try to do something completely new and unimagined. Obvious I'm in the latter category. It's important to know which side you are on, because the nature of those companies are very different. For me, what drove me and continues to drive me was that I was obsessed with seeing the *place* that large scale virtual worlds would become. It haunted me - I wanted to figure out how to build it, just so I could see it. If you have a dream like that, go for it.
Mark Miscavage
Mark Miscavage@markmiscavage
@philiprosedale What's your thoughts on advertising in VR? How you're seeing it now, your stance, and ideas for the future?
Philip Rosedale
Philip Rosedale@philiprosedale
@markmiscavage That's a great one. I think advertising in VR will be very interesting and lucrative because it will be in the form of billboards or blimps, just like in real life. And that will in many cases be entertaining and not disruptive - the virtual version on NYC would seem totally wrong without ads, right? Also people will want ads to help discover what other people are building/doing. So I think advertising will be an intriguing part of virtual worlds.
Mark Miscavage
Mark Miscavage@markmiscavage
@philiprosedale Awesome! I actually created a VR ad network (https://focalhub.co), check it out when you have a chance, happy to give a demo as well :)
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Philip! welcome :) What books have most inspired your work?
Philip Rosedale
Philip Rosedale@philiprosedale
@eriktorenberg On the VR front: Neuromancer, Plowing the Dark, Ready Player 1, Snow Crash, True Names. On the general/business side things like The Mystery of Capital, The Death and Life of American Cities, The Future of Work.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
Also, what would you tell yourself when you were just starting secondlife, knowing what you know now?
Philip Rosedale
Philip Rosedale@philiprosedale
@eriktorenberg To relax, and just keep trying to build the thing I was dreaming about. To ask for less advice. To focus more on finding great people and not just building the technology.
Erik Torenberg
Erik Torenberg@eriktorenberg · Former Product Hunt
would you recommend for investors to start investing in VR hardware or software right now?
Philip Rosedale
Philip Rosedale@philiprosedale
@eriktorenberg Software. Hardware it a tough business, and Oculus/HTC/Sony are doing pretty great work. There's room everywhere, but I would look at ways of applying these new headsets to different markets with good software.
Emily Hodgins@ems_hodge · Operations @ Product Hunt
@philiprosedale Thanks so much for joining us today! Tons of great answers to all our varied questions. We've really appreciated your time out to be here :)
Philip Rosedale
Philip Rosedale@philiprosedale
@ems_hodge Thank you for having me!!
Harry Stebbings
Harry Stebbings@harrystebbings · Podcast Host @ The Twenty Minute VC
thanks so much for joining us today. I would love to hear where you think we will be with VR in the next 10 years! What did you make of the acquisition by FB of Oculus?
Philip Rosedale
Philip Rosedale@philiprosedale
@harrystebbings FB made the right call, they are playing the long game here. They will pull the date for broad use of VR forward by investing as early as they did and getting great hardware out into the market. I think in 10 years we will all use it everyday as we do the internet.
Julian Renard
Julian Renard @julian_renard · Founder, Foxlabagency.com
Are you inspired by the science fiction novel Ready player one ? How close do you think we are to technologies describes in this novel ?
Philip Rosedale
Philip Rosedale@philiprosedale
@julian_renard RP1 gets a lot of stuff right. I think of it as a manual for High Fidelity the same way I thought of Snow Crash as the same thing for Second Life. In particular the idea of doing education in the HMD - I think that is certainly going to happen, and probably sooner than we think.
Erik Finman
Erik Finman@erikfinman · Founder of Finman Technologies
How do you see VR impacting education?
Philip Rosedale
Philip Rosedale@philiprosedale
@erikfinman VR will make it possible to meet with your teacher inside a space designed to learn in. She'll be able to talk to you perfectly normally, and you will pay attention the same as in RL and can raise your hand to ask questions. It's quiet in there - no cell phones. And you can build anything for students - the inside of the brain or a cell, or orbiting the moon. And on top of that kids don't need to live in the same area to be in the same classroom. That is going to be crazy, and the learning advantages will make it grow super fast.
How do you see Sansar vs HiFi playing out when both are potentially trying to attract the same customer base?
Philip Rosedale
Philip Rosedale@philiprosedale
@furroy The experiences are going to be pretty different, at least initially. We're focusing on enabling very rich low-latency interaction through the HMD, and also de-centralizing the deployment of the servers. You won't be able to do all the things in HF that you can do in SL, at least not in the near term.
Franz Bruckhoff
Franz Bruckhoff@taptanium · Taptanium
@philiprosedale It was a great pleasure to meet you at HF HQ. Thank you for this opportunity. Aside from VR hardware, how do you feel about distributed memristor-based computational architectures and the impact on future virtual worlds? Or is there a technology that gets you even more excited?
Philip Rosedale
Philip Rosedale@philiprosedale
@taptanium I have to admit I had to look up 'memristor', so maybe that's a bad sign. :) At a high level: there is 1000x more CPU connected to broadband at home/work than exists in EC2/Rackspace/etc servers today. The connections to these machines are getting better and better - average global download speed is 33Mbps (I know, I know not median - I'm not sure what that is). Virtual worlds are immense consumers of compute and bandwidth, so i think we will see them using these machines.
Ben Tossell@bentossell · newCo
What would the you of 2 years ago think of the you today?
Philip Rosedale
Philip Rosedale@philiprosedale
@bentossell I try to be tougher and more tolerant of conflict. I try to hard to make everyone happy - a common trait and weakness of the more 'visionary' leadership styles.
Andrew Ettinger
Andrew Ettinger@andrewett · 👟 @wearAtoms // ex @Twitter @ProductHunt
@philiprosedale What atypical industry, that perhaps most aren't talking about, do you see VR potentially "disrupting"?
Philip Rosedale
Philip Rosedale@philiprosedale
@andrewmettinger Here are two: Business travel, and religion/spirituality. If we can have a perfect face to face meeting in VR, much of business travel goes away which is a huge huge change. As to the second - there is something very powerful and peaceful about VR - a kind of sanctuary or magical space. Probably this means that some of the collective experiences people have today around religion or more generally spirituality may begin happening in there.
Franz Bruckhoff
Franz Bruckhoff@taptanium · Taptanium
This may be a little far-fetched: Do you believe we will see direct neural I/O within the next two or three decades? And if so, what does that mean for virtual worlds? Will there be such a thing as "strong VR"?
Philip Rosedale
Philip Rosedale@philiprosedale
@taptanium It's a cool idea, but I don't think so. There is no technology yet on the radar that would allow us to talk to nerve cells inside the brain without also damaging them. It's a hard problem, so far as I can tell. What I think is likely to happen, though, is that we do see early types of 'strong' AI living inside our virtual worlds. Partly this is because it will be so much easier to be an AI in a virtual world, versus being an AI embodied in a robot. We don't have the battery problems worked out, for one thing.
Franz Bruckhoff
Franz Bruckhoff@taptanium · Taptanium
@philiprosedale ...which reminds me of a Star Trek Voyager episode in which captain Janeway fell in love with a strong AI character on the Holodeck.
Franz Bruckhoff
Franz Bruckhoff@taptanium · Taptanium
Aside from vision and sound, which other sensory inputs do you see coming within the next two decades?
Philip Rosedale
Philip Rosedale@philiprosedale
@taptanium The critical input that will enable VR is the hands - being able to manipulate the world in front of you and also communicate with your hands. Haptic stuff is super hard, though. Farther out, I can see remapping the mechanoreceptors on the hands to something new - the same way you can give people vision through their tongue or back. Hard to say.