Thursday, February 5, 2009

A talk with Grant Linden about Xstreet

At a recent open meeting with Grant Linden, "a User Experience Designer at Linden Lab working on the commerce team" a number of residents learned more about the Linden Labs acquisition of the Xstreet SL and OnRez retail services and what might be expected. Here is a short bullet list of items discussed with comments:

◆ No new L$ cash terminals. The whole concept is being looked at, but with the integration of resident L$ balances into the Xstreet marketplace, terminals likely won't be necessary. Several of us did not like the integration idea for security reasons. For example, having funds stashed in an off-world system like Xstreet or OnRez protected in-world liquidity. What happens if my in-world balance disappears like the inventory losses many of us are familar with of late? Grant acknowledged these concerns but had no firm response.

◆ Several residents asked about using OnRez vendors in-world. While the Lab is looking at a vendor system, Grant gave the impression that the idea did not sit well with the Lab. Some residents asked for compensation for the money spent customizing OnRez vendors. It is not likely the Lab will do this and another resident pointed out that the customization was a voluntary business risk. There actually seemed to be a number of residents at the meeting that lamented the loss of OnRez. Grant mentioned that many of the best practices (a common business term, but he didn't use it) of OnRez would be looked at and integrated if feasible.

◆ Grant was genuinely concerned when I expressed my distaste for the acquisition as a "Company Store" move (my blog Web; Wikipedia Web). In the chat I stressed to others who commented that we don't have a choice and as merchants it is our job to determine how we can best leverage the situation.

◆ Concerns about post-sale commissions were brought up to which Grant assured us that the funds were being used to support Xstreet operations and improvements, the implication being that the Lab would not profit from the commissions. (That may be the case in the short term, but who knows how that will change. Uccie.) Roy Blanchard pointed out that the commissions could be seen as competition by in-world merchants who don't use Xstreet.

I wonder if it would be possible to use our in-world Inventory system as a "warehouse" for items that we want to sell? An Xstreet folder could be created and any resident-created content could be kept there for an automatic listing on Xstreet. Essentially, that would build a store front for any resident and eliminate the need for in-world delivery boxes. For mall owners, though, this could create a problem. My friend Roy Blanchard, owner of Hug*Mart (SLurl), is not a merchant but is kind enough to provide free space for purveyors of goods for Tinies. Such an idea might actually hurt malls like his.

◆ Mention of an independent entity to replace Xstreet or OnRez was made by several but the conversation was fuzzy (at least to me). I pointed out that any competitor would need to overcome LL's advantage of being tied to in-world search, a feature that Grant emphasized several times.

◆ A whole lotta this: [2009/02/05 13:48] Splashable Water 1.5: Could not find object 'splish'. It is funny to see things like this on Linden properties, especially those built and maintained by individual Lindens. And have you ever flown around the offices and counted the sex furniture?

◆ As part of a sprawling and spotty discussion of the tags used on Xstreet, I suggested that much could be learned from looking at the List view in Apple iTunes. Grant liked the idea of a more intuitive tagging system, mentioning that he once worked for with a suggestion that some of that site's functionality could be worked into the Xstreet site. allistair Macbain had some great feedback for Grant on this topic, particularly on ease-of-use. Many from the Tiny community expressed concerns about proper tagging on Xstreet and Grant acknowledged this by pointing out that several communities have similar concerns.

◆ Did you say Wish List? One of the cool ideas that Grant mentioned was being able to put an Xstreet Wish List in our profiles. To me, this means that in-world merchants who do not use Xstreet would be left out.

◆ No "taxes" (i.e., commissions) on in-world sales. And the Lab doesn't have plans to kill in-world businesses that don't use Xstreet.

◆ [2009/02/05 14:00] Splashable Water 1.5: Could not find object 'splish'. Kinda glad I had sound turned off.

Many thanks to Roy Blanchard for keeping me in the loop in his talks with the Lab. In the picture from L to R: Grant Linden, Roy Blanchard, allistair Macbain, Uccello Poultry, Orrla Loire

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