Good interview up from Inc. magazine with Philip Rosedale on history of Second Life. Here are some choice quotations:
In mid-1999, I came back to San Francisco and I started the office in Hayes Valley, on Linden Alley
>> HW: We were at 333 Linden St between a corset/fetish wear store and a semi-legal auto mechanic. The building had no heat and no air conditioning. It was perpetually uncomfortable. We did have a conveyor belt though. After we left, 333 Linden briefly became a male sex club. I didn't think this boded well for our company's legacy - I'm fairly certain the HP Garage never housed anonymous gay love.
Second Life was just unfundable. It was just the dumbest idea ever. Mitch Kapor [the founder of Lotus Development] was the only person who got it. Mitch invested in 2001 after I had invested about a million dollars of my own money. I think some of the early angel investors were largely investing in me
>> HW: We did pitches/conversations with most of the major VCs but all passed. At various points two firms had one partner who believed in us but couldn't win over the rest of their team. (side note: one of these partners actually left the firm shortly after, partially because he was so distraught that he couldn't fund Second Life). Philip had been an EIR at Accel, where Mitch also was a venture partner for a short while. And Accel still passed. People just didn't get what we were doing. But we knew it was something interesting, if only we could make it happen.
A nice piece - highly recommended for Second Life fans and just plain old entrepreneurs who have a dream.