Tomorrow Second Life will celebrate its 3rd birthday as an official product ("official" meaning people were paying for access - we actually are more than 4 years old if you count alpha and beta access). Congrats to the Second Life residents and Linden Lab team on getting to this milestone. The world is bigger than Boston, with a GDP and US dollar exchange rate rivaling an Eastern European country.
I recall two main memories of our launch: i was tired and unfortunately correct.
Tired: Didn't sleep for the two nights prior to launch and I was on the verge of hallucinating. It was less about work (although there was lots to be done) and more nerves. I just was too nervous to sleep. We had a celebratory BBQ at Robin Harper's house and all i could do was sip lemonade and try to stay awake. It was still fun thought - i mean, it was my first chance to meet Char Linden who came in for the event.
Correct: The Lindens set up a contest as to how many beta residents would give us a credit card and start paying. I think we threw in some small amount like $5/each. The guesses were all over the board - Cory and Philip were characteristically optimistic, suggesting the majority of our beta testers converting.
I was the low number. It wasn't that I thought Second Life was doomed but rather our growth would be incremental and it wouldn't happen all at once. And I was right, taking home the $80 or so from our betting pool. Philip was kinda bummed at the low resident numbers but again, always looking ahead, said "Well, I guess it's good that our business guy was the one who could actually forecast our growth."