The world’s preeminent authority on the economic and technological impact of virtual worlds, Cory Ondrejka offers an exciting look at what’s ahead and how it will affect business and society. Currently the director of mobile engineering at Facebook and as co-founder and CTO of Linden Lab, Cory Ondrejka has long been an evangelist for the power of virtual worlds. A relentless innovator, he led the team that collaborated in unprecedented ways to solve impossible problems—taking the power of the virtual world to an extreme by co-opting the real and the virtual.
Ondrejka’s creation, Second Life, is not a game, but a tool set to build a virtual world, populated by “residents” who can then build whatever they want. Second Life shows just how powerful virtual words can be – it has transformed the way millions of people think about community, collaboration and entrepreneurship. People from around the globe are discovering worlds where the only limit is human creativity. People, ideas and cultures are interacting in ways never before possible.
Ondrejka conveys the excitement about this new frontier where entrepreneurs are already exploring ways to generate real-world profits. These digital worlds face important decisions around whether, and how, to embrace these business activities. Companies are using a virtual presence to test new products, and these virtual-world technologies provide a platform for learning, innovation and competition whose potential is just being imagined.
In life after Linden Lab and Second Life, Ondrejka was a visiting professor at University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communication. From there, Ondrejka spent 18 months driving digital strategy and cultural change at EMI Music, first as Senior Vice President for Digital Strategy, then as Executive Vice President Global Digital Marketing. Through a focus on consumer insight, technology awareness, and internal collaboration, EMI saved millions of dollars and enabled its artists to share the music experience with fans in new and innovative ways.
Business Transformation, Change and Revolution
Web 2.0, video games, and virtual worlds are initiating the most disruptive information technology transition since the World Wide Web. Corporate and government leaders once again face complex questions around technology, innovation and competition. Non-technology companies face particular challenges as technological change radically impacts costs and opportuniteis. Cory Ondrejka brings unique insight to the business challenges and opportunities inherent to adapting and using these new technologies.
Building Innovative Organizations
Cory Ondrejka is an expert on the complex challenges of building innovation in distributed organizations that allows technology-savvy workers to thrive in a more connected workplace. As companies fully engage global opportunities, they face new hurdles and opportunities to integrate and collaborate with employees dispersed throughout the world, so understanding the deep connection between innovation and learning is critical.
Connection, Communication and Learning
Real-time collaboration technologies appearing in virtual worlds and on the web enable new modes of communication, both within organizations and between corporations and customers. User-generated content gives customers new methods for connecting with brands and sharing their opinions online. Cory Ondrejka discusses how interactions in games and virtual worlds provide a quantitatively different opportunity compared to the lightweight connections of a web impression, and offers strategies to take advantage of these opportunities to connect.
Entrepreneurship in the Experience Economy
Online communities create opportunities for entrepreneurs to explore the zero-marginal cost experience economy. Whether in Second Life or Facebook, new entrepreneurs are building multinational teams to rapidly explore design space and business plans. Cory Ondrejka explains how organizations are able to take advantage of this entrepreneurial energy.
Virtual Worlds and National Security
The US State Department, Defense Department and Intelligence Agencies have all recognized the need to understand how virtual worlds impact national power. Cory Ondrejka’s unique background allows him to bridge diverse worlds to bring critical insights to analysts and policy makers, focusing on the threats and opportunities created by games and virtual worlds
As the co-creator of Second Life, Cory Ondrejka is the world’s preeminent authority on the economic and technological impact of virtual worlds. Ondrejka is an expert on the complex interrelation between innovation and learning, as well as the technological and social requirements of product development across entangled, geographically dispersed teams.
A skilled and exciting speaker, Ondrejka regularly addresses corporate, academic and government organizations on how virtual worlds change our understanding of communities, geography and entrepreneurship. These talks have led to the creation of hundreds of new ventures at Fortune 500 corporations like IBM and Cisco, experimental class structures at Harvard Law School and other top universities and government use of virtual worlds from the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet to the Singaporean Ministry of Education.
Ondrejka is the former executive vice president of Digital Strategy for EMI Recorded Music. In this role, Ondrejka is advancing the company’s digital marketing capabilities, developing new consumer and market insight resources and leading EMI’s experimentation with new digital marketing and product models in order to provide the best service to its artists and their fans.
Ondrejka architected the core code and built the team that created Second Life, the award winning virtual world. With over 12 million residents and an economy larger than several countries, Second Life has transformed the way millions of people think about community, collaboration and entrepreneurship. From core engineering around distributed computing and user-driven, co-creation through the groundbreaking decision to allow residents to maintain the intellectual property of their creations, Ondrejka has been at the center of the meteoric growth of Second Life.
Beyond the Second Life, he has also driven Linden Lab unique distributed culture for geographically dispersed software development, establishing tools and practices for building the right internal teams for specific tasks, independent of the geographic location of the people. This culture has allowed the Linden Lab development team to grow from 1 person to 120 people, while still remaining independent and entrepreneurial.
The need to solve impossible problems drove Ondrejka to develop an unprecedented level of transparency and collaboration with external resources, allowing Second Life to reach a diverse set of communities. His speeches and collaborations have directly led to Second Life use by game developers, print media, television, Hollywood, hundreds of universities, non-profit organizations, philanthropic foundations, the US military, State Department, intelligence communities, climate change researchers, medical and social science researchers, and more. He is also an accomplished writer, including the chapter Education Unleashed in the MacArthur Series on Digital Media and Learning, and the recent Collapsing Geography in the journal Innovations: Technology, Governance and Globalization, both published by MIT Press.
As virtual worlds continue to transform communication and business, he is uniquely positioned to help organizations understand the new worlds that are coming.
• Former Executive Vice President of Digital Strategy – EMI Recorded Music
• Visiting Professor and Fellow at the Network Culture Project, USC Annenberg School for Communication
• Entrepreneur in Residence, Catamount Ventures
• Cofounder, former-CTO, Linden Lab, cocreator of Second Life
• Former advisor to Defense Modeling and Simulation Office
• Officer in the United States Navy. BS Weapons and Systems Engineering and completed all requirements for
• BS Computer Science from the United States Naval Academy. Also a graduate of Navy Nuclear Power School.