The Economics and Business of Second Life and Virtual Worlds

June 15, 2007

Warren Hall - Room L107

Columbia University

1125 Amsterdam Avenue

New York, NY

The Columbia Institute for Tele-Information (CITI) and The Conference Board would like to invite you to a conference on "Virtual Worlds" such as Second Life (, which are emerging as fast-growing Internet-based environments, and are attracting the interest of a wide range of participants from entrepreneurs to large multinational enterprises who have established "virtual stores" online. Companies that are already online or close to it include IBM, ABN-AMRO, Sears, Circuit City (CC), General Motors (GM), Toyota Motor (TM), Dell (DELL), Cisco Systems (CSCO), Sun Microsystems (SUNW), Reuters Group (RTRSY), Wal-Mart (WMT), Intel (INTC), American Express (AXP), and many others.


This is the first CITI/Conference Board meeting that is a true hybrid between 'real life' and the reality of 'virtual worlds. The meeting will take place physically at Columbia University and half of the meeting will also take place in Second Life. All of the meeting, however, will be available online in live, streaming video, and we will be joined by experts from as far away as Finland, Japan, Malaysia, Scotland, Germany, Chile, and France. These remote participants will be presenting both videos and slides within IBM's virtual Second Life facility. All participants worldwide will be linked together via a telephone teleconferencing system.


Conference Agenda

7:45 - 8:00 a.m. - Registration/Coffee

8:00 - 8:15 a.m. - Intro

Definitions and Reference Points

  • The Conference Board - Edward M. Roche, Director of Scientific Intelligence, Barraclough Ltd. [Presentation]
  • Columbia Center for Tele-Information - Eli Noam, Professor of Finance and Economics. Host of this meeting.

8:15 - 9:00 a.m. - Vendors

Emerging Applications and Provider

  • Linden Labs - John Lester. Linden Labs is the creator of Second Life. He has very deep knowledge of the underlying technology including the architecture of the Linux clusters, client requirements, and so on. Also, he is an expert in applications development. [Presentation]
  • QuestG - Algis Leveckis, Co-CEO and Founder. Al's company has been commissioned by several international banks and other financial institutions to build virtual environments for training purposes. [Presentation]
  • Forterra Systems - Robert Gehorsam, President. This company has been building virtual worlds for the U.S. military and Department of Homeland Security for training. They have also received a contract from the Intelligence Community to examine the applications of virtual worlds for collaboration and sharing of intelligence information.

9:00 - 9:30 a.m. - Users

  • Office of the Director of National Intelligence - Rita M. Bush, Division Chief, Information Exploitation Division, Disruptive Technology Office, Office of the Director of National Intelligence. [Presentation]
  • Reuters - Adam Pasick, Reuters Bureau Chief in Second Life. Reuters has built large financial information center within Second Life and we are searching for the person who can talk about the strategic decision to enter this arena, and what they expect in the future. [Presentation]

9:30 - 10:15 a.m. - Business Strategy

Consumer Acceptance, Business Acceptance, and Possible Dangers

  • IBM - Michael Rowe, Senior Program Manager, Virtual Worlds & 3D Internet - 3D Internet Champion. Michael will discuss the technologies behind virtual worlds including systems development methodologies, systems development tools, telecomm infrastructure aspects, and the role of Open Source. [Presentation]
  • Text 100 International - Aedhmar Hynes, CEO, Public Relations in Virtual Worlds. Text100 is the winner of the Holmes Report New Media Agency of the Year Award and PR Week's Innovator of the Year Award. [Presentation]
  • Financial Times - Aline van Duyn. She is the head of the Communications Department at the FT. She will talk about current business uses of virtual worlds, and the do's and don'ts. Some of her recent work has been examining security and other crime related issues.
  • Goizueta Business School - Benn R. Konsynski and David Bray from Emory University discuss toys becoming tools in virtual worlds and new realities [Presentation]

10:15 - 10:30 a.m. - Coffee

10:30 - 11:00 a.m. - User Effects

  • Center for Internet Studies - David N. Greenfield, Founder and CEO. Dave will discuss some of the sociological and psychological aspects of virtual worlds in "next generation" consumers. Obviously your future customers are going to expect a different online experience than what is provided now.
  • Fordham Business School - Professor John T. Carey. John is an expert on consumer behavior in new media. He will answer questions that a company needs to know about consumers if they are thinking about entering into this space.

11:00 - 11:30 a.m. - Legal Challenges

A Complex of Issues

  • Harvard Law School - Viktor Mayer-Schönberger. There are may complex legal issues that are emerging including intellectual property rights, contracts, the use of a currency, taxation, yada-yada-yada and Victor is going to provide a type of taxonomy that will organize all of the issues for us.
  • Kenyon & Kenyon, LLP - S. Gregory Boyd, M.D., Intellectual Property Issues and Money Laundering in virtual worlds. [Presentation]
  • National Center for Justice and the Rule of Law - Don Mason, Professor of Law. Don will provide commentary on a few of the cyber-crime issues that appear to be emerging, with a particular reference to the 4th amendment. [Presentation]
  • United Nations - Richard L. Field. Richard is on several UN advisory committees. He will be on the legal panel and discuss some of the international issues that are coming up, particularly around money laundering and other financial transactions.

11:30 - 12:30 p.m. - Second Life Meeting/Teleconference

12:30 p.m. - Comments from Eli Noam and Ed Roche




The conference is free to attend both in person and in Second Life, though registration is still necessary for all parties. Register online for the physical event at, or to attend virtually, please email CITI's assistant director, John Heywood, at, for teleport/webcast information. For more information or with questions, please contact Mr. Heywood.


Upcoming CITI Events

Conference Organized by Eli M. Noam, Edward M. Roche, John W. Heywood and Daphne Boykin