While the real world economy is scrambling to break its fall, the Second Life economy seems to be doing fine while few are watching. Linden Lab, parent company of what’s probably the only user-generated virtual world most people are aware of, has consistently been exceeding $75 million a year and is profitable. Maybe our politicians could learn something.

Second Life has been remarkably consistent for much of its seven years. Monthly repeat logins run at about 794,000, and the amount of Linden dollars – the local currency – in circulation generally is around 29 million ($116,000). Even though it’s free to participate, it’s very rare to find a resident who hasn’t personalized their avatar or enhanced the free experience in some other way.

Although its not a mainstream pastime, Dwight Schrute is not alone once he logs in. The Office character who’s an avid Second Lifer is one of nearly 750,000 unique users who log in more than once a month, for a total of 105 million hours spent in the world they’ve created.

Virtual land provides the company’s primary source of revenue, according to the report in Launch, since Second Life isn’t much fun unless your avatar has a place to live. Whether an avatar rents or buys, the quickest way to get the local currency Linden dollars is to buy them in the real world’s currency, where users pay a 30-cent exchange transaction. There’s also a 2 percent fee for exchanging in the other direction.

There are many other ways to earn Linden dollars, including buying or selling furniture, clothing, breedable pets, cars and anything else a user can dream up and create. Services can also be bought and sold, no matter whether a wants someone to wash their car or to provide more, um, personal services.

In fact, Launch’s source said 15 percent of the company’s revenue comes from sex-related services. Second Life also gets a 5 percent commission from each Marketplace transaction. The company reports a fairly consistent 29 million Linden dollars in circulation among its residents.

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