Amid Microsoft buyout rumors, Linden Lab founder leaves CEO post

The game of musical chairs in the executive suite at Second Life parent company Linden Lab continued today, as founder Philip Rosedale, who had been serving as interim CEO since June, announced he was stepping down from the job immediately.

The change-up happens amidst nearly a month of rumors that Microsoft has already made a bid for the company and may soon acquire the virtual reality shop, according to TechEye, which sourced it to a post on Twitter from someone claiming to be close to Linden’s management team.

Both companies refused to comment on those rumors today.

Rosedale had taken over the role when former CEO Mark Kingdon left the company in mid-June, shortly after Linden slashed 30 percent of its employee roster and said it would begin focusing more on extending Second Life into mobile phones and social networks.

The company said today that Linden’s current CFO and COO Bob Komin will fill the CEO post until a replacement is found.

Rosedale announced the move in a blog post on Second Life’s corporate website, saying “After about four months as interim CEO, working closely with Bob Komin, the management team, and the board, we’ve decided we are ready to start the search for a new CEO. I’ll be leaving day-to-day management of the company and continuing in my role on the board, including helping in the search to find a great CEO. I will also be continuing my work with my new company, LoveMachine.”

He added: “It’s been an intense few months of transition, and we all feel like we are in a better place now, with a clearer sense of direction and more focus, and are ready to bring someone new into the mix as a leader.”

Linden Lab was founded in 1999 by Rosedale to create a shared, 3D experience where users could literally “build the world around them,” which lead to the birth of SecondLife in 2003. Rosedale was previously CTO of RealNetworks, where he focused on the development and deployment of streaming media technologies.

San Francisco-based Linden Lab declined to provide any additional comment or a timeline for filling the CEO slot.

The company currently employs 250 people and is funded by a consortium of investors including Mitch Kapor, Catamount Ventures, Benchmark Capital, Ray Ozzie, Omidyar Network, Globespan Capital Partners and Bezos Expeditions, the personal investment vehicle of Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos — meaning a lot of eminent tech personalities will have egg on their face if Linden Lab continues to struggle.