In a move to enhance its digital portfolio and attract international talent, online services provider Hyro has expanded to the virtual world of Second Life.
The ASX-listed company last week launched its virtual headquarters on a private island in the Second Life metaverse. Dubbed 'The Snow Dome', Hyro's four-level complex features a conference centre, two theatres, three separate themed meeting rooms, as well as exhibition rooms showcasing the company's past work and awards.
Also located at The Snow Dome is a recruitment hub, where visitors are able to pick up and lodge job applications, and be interviewed for a range of real-world opportunities at Hyro's offices in Australia, New Zealand and Thailand. According to the company's Chief Operating Officer Richard Lord, the company's in-game presence is expected to attract digitally savvy people who suit its expansion strategy.
"We think that the sorts of people who embrace Second Life are the sorts of people who are experienced with digital channels and see their potential," said Lord, who is known in-game as Richard Lykin. "We expect that the people we find here will have skills and insights that will be useful for a wide spectrum of projects."
Second Life is virtual home to some 3.7 million residents whose total in-game spending amounts to more than US$860,000 per day. With companies like Nike, AOL, Sony BMG, IBM, Intel and Sun staking their claim on patches of virtual real estate, Lord expects more companies to soon be entering the metaverse as well.
"I think that for our marketing customers, the challenge is about attracting customers," he said. "We need to accept that nowadays that involves going to where those customers are spending their time, so as things like virtual worlds become more popular, there will be clients for whom in-world advertising makes sense."
Besides its role in recruiting, Hyro's in-game presence presents both marketing and learning opportunities for the company. Alongside its island headquarters, the company also released advertising blimps that fly around the virtual world pointing Second Life residents towards The Snow Dome.
Hyro's virtual headquarters is also expected to improve the way that the company operates. The company plans to hold international conferences in its virtual conference centre, where employees can collaborate via streaming audio, video, and virtual face-to-face chat regardless of their real-world locations.
While the prospect of a virtual work environment may seem daunting at first, Lord expects the Second Life interface to be quite intuitive. Hyro does not currently require its employees to have Second Life avatars, or provide training for its employees to operate in the virtual world.
Lord declined to reveal the cost of Hyro's Second Life deployment, in view of maintaining a strategic advantage over companies that it is competing with for talent. He estimated the retail value of developing The Snow Dome to be in the region of tens of thousands of dollars, noting that development costs are likely to vary according to client needs.