The top eight corporate sites in Second Life

The best corporate sites on Second Life worth visiting

I was standing in a spacious entryway, chatting with the chief science officer at Sun Microsystems. His short-cropped hair, V-neck sweater and glasses were a sure sign of technical prowess.

Peeking just over the horizon, the sun cast a warm glow over a nearby server rack. I was wearing a Sun baseball hat, a T-shirt with the Java logo emblazoned on the front and a purple lapel pin. I was also holding a Sun helium-filled balloon that was at least three times as big as my head.

"Nice facility you have here," I said, as he suddenly vanished into thin air.

"It happens once in a while," said another Sun employee.

In the virtual world of Second Life, anything goes -- even if your goal is to build a corporate brand, hold ad hoc user group meetings, sponsor a conference or help end users find a video card driver.

Here's a list of the top eight sites worth visiting. To find them, just register at, install, click Search and type the company name to find its island and transport. Save us a T-shirt if you go!

8. Best Buy Geek Squad

Geeks unite! At Geek Squad Island, the most impressive offering -- apart from the bumper car ride that's modeled after the original Geek Squad vehicles -- is deep technical advice.

Real-world employees keep regular hours from 6 p.m. to 3 a.m. and will chat about any topic. I asked about video card support for DX10 games and which USB keydrives work for ReadyBoost, and an agent knew the answers immediately.

According to Diana Garrett, a Geek Squad spokeswoman (and my tour guide), employees will consult for free until a customer needs to buy a product -- for that, they have to call or e-mail.

There are no giveaways, though, and the place is dead during non-working hours.

Note: A search won't work for Geek Squad Island, so use this URL.

7. H&R Block

The wood floors at H&R Block Island (search for "HR Block" on Second Life) are a subtle reminder: This is a top-tier financial consulting portal, modeled after the 12,000 office locations worldwide.

Despite the stuffy decor, there is an interesting point-of-sale angle. For US$100 Linden (the currency in Second Life, which is about $70 in U.S. currency), you can buy the new Tango online tax preparation software. No discount, though -- that was the same price offered on the H&R Block site until a "limited-time offer" was instituted.

The bundle includes access to virtual scooters, dance shoes, a T-shirt and other paraphernalia. Of course, the real transaction takes place on the Web, where you type in an access code.

Unlike Dell Island, where you can build a virtual PC and then buy it online, H&R Block seems to want to conduct real business in Second Life, perhaps as a proof-of-concept. Now that's an innovative spirit!

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