In a move that is sad in some ways, but unsurprising in others, ING emailed
me today to say that they are closing down Our Virtual Holland (OVH), the
experiment in online social networking in Second Life.
I guess that they have realised, like many of us, that if Second Life’s
banking system cannot be trusted, and also if Second Life cannot deliver on its
growth promise, then there’s no point in further investment.
The former point relates to Second Life losing
credibility when they outlawed gambling with the knock-on effect that their
banking system crumbled. The latter is indicated by the fact that Second Life
grew from virtually no users in 2006 to 12 million in 2008 … but only 1.2
million people use the service regularly (in the past 60 days) and this number
"After a year of pioneering, learning and innovating ING Retail Netherlands
has decided to close down the Our Virtual Holland activities in Second Life.
"The main reason is the current merger of the ING bank Netherlands and the
Postbank. The focus of our activities will be directed to the merger.
"Virtual Worlds continue to be an interesting and for ING relevant
development. Virtual worlds as a communication platform as well as virtual
economies are important developments for a financial institution like ING. ING
Asia Pacific will keep the presence in Second Life with their ‘Cha Lounge’ on
our own ING island. In this way the knowledge about virtual worlds inside ING is
not lost and we are ready to make a quick restart in the future.
"We have learned a lot this past year and it was a pleasure to facilitate the
Our Virtual Holland community. 50 % of Our Virtual Holland partners will
continue their activities in Second Life. We are happy to tell you that
community member willl take over part of the OVH community activities. The name
of the community island will be changed to Virtual Holland. We wish the Virtual
Holland community good luck.
"We aim to finish our activities in Second Life by the first of March. At
the Our Virtual Holland site you will find updates on the activities of ING Asia
Pacific in Second Life and about the partners and community members.
"Gertjan Kaaij (Gavin Market) and the Our Virtual Holland team"
Mind you, I suspected it was going to close down a while ago when my friend,
Engelen who was the driving force behind OVH, left the bank to freelance
earlier this year.