Brendan McKeegan

SmartCompany /

Don’t like your first life? Take a new name, a new face and step into the virtual world of Second Life.

Out of the real world, into the new

So you’re a little tired and just can’t escape the dull monotony of your “real” life. Why not try a second, “virtual” life. After all, you can be who you want to be without reality’s harsh face staring you in the mirror when you wake up every morning.

All you need is to register at www.secondlife.com (it’s free for the basic level), select a first name (your second name can only be selected from a defined list) and choose your own “image”, known as you “avatar”.

I first came across Second Life about six months ago. It is the brainchild of San Francisco-based Philip Rosedale and is backed by some deep-pocketed investors such as Paul Allen of Microsoft fame. At the time, IBM was singing its praises as a means of employees collaborating and mingling in a virtual world free of prejudices about status, race or hair colour.

Yes, that’s right, those blue-suit-wearing guys from the 1980s have really made a leap of faith into the “new” world. I must admit, they have also put their money where their mouth, or should I say avatar, is by committing to spending up to $US10 million on Second Life in 2007. Even IBM chief executive Sam Palmisano even has an Avatar!

So how do you spend $US10 million in a virtual life?

Well, that’s one of the key attributes of Second Life. You can buy virtual currency (Linden Dollars) with you “real” money and spend it in the virtual world. Most of the money so far has been spent on virtual real estate, which the key vehicle for establishing your brand in the virtual world.

IBM already has the largest presence of Fortune 500 companies. It owns a private island where it hold regular virtual meetings with employees and clients from across the globe.

Apart from big companies such as Nike, Sony and Toyota making a grab for “virtual” land to ensure their brand is front of mind in this new frontier, there is an array of Second Life entrepreneurs who are seizing an opportunity to make their mark in this virtual world.

Not surprisingly, the taxman is also taking a keen interest, with the US congress setting up a committee to investigate the tax implications earning money in a virtual world.

That’s right, no escaping the tax man. Perhaps there is an opportunity – a safe haven in the virtual world. Hmmm … my very own BVI. I like it!

In case you are curious, my Second Life identity is Cant Falta (what else could I choose when I found the surname of Falta on the drop down list!). Look me up if you ever get the urge to cross over from your first to second life.

Virtual traveller Brendan McKeegan keeps tabs on all the latest hot tech trends and is an entrepreneur at the forefront of commercialising emerging technologies. He has founded and built the businesses 2degrees Consulting, NinetyDays, Loaded Footwear, Revolution Brands and Oxia.


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