SAN FRANCISCO—Virtual world Second Life's chief technology officer -- a colorful Navy veteran who delights in mocking creationism -- has resigned.
Cory Ondrejka, employee No. 4 at San Francisco-based Linden Lab, which owns Second Life, quit Tuesday and will depart at the end of the year.
Ondrejka helped write the computer code that underpins the popular virtual world. Second Life is a 3D Internet destination where users create, buy and sell fantastic islands inhabited by virtual characters, or avatars.
Philip Rosedale, CEO of the eight-year-old company, said Ondrejka resigned to "pursue new professional challenges" and said he and Ondrejka had strategic differences.
"The needs of our company are changing, and the role of CTO, or technical lead, has also evolved," Rosedale said in a statement. "Cory and I are in agreement that our paths, at this point in time at least, lie in different directions."
Ondrejka could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
Second Life has been criticized for technical problems -- graphics that load painfully slowly on older computers, and bizarre glitches where avatars appear unintentionally naked. The site has struggled with hackers and hecklers, who have defaced other users' content or interrupted virtual conferences.
Ondrejka spearheaded the company's decision to allow users to retain intellectual property rights to their creations. That's encouraged a thriving e-commerce market where users spend real dollars to buy virtual real estate, clothes, cars and other items.
Ondrejka has appeared in Second Life as the Flying Spaghetti Monster -- a reference to the farcical religion "Pastafarianism."
Pastafarianism -- in which the universe's creator resembles spaghetti and meatballs -- is the brain child of a physics graduate student at Oregon State University, who in 2005 wanted to protest the Kansas State Board of Education's decision to require the teaching of intelligent design.
If schools teach intelligent design -- similar to creationism and contrary to evolution -- they should also teach Pastafarianism and other beliefs, insist adherents, including many scientists and technologists.
Before joining Linden Lab in November 2000, Ondrejka was a programmer for video game developer Pacific Coast Power and Light. He did computer work for the Department of Defense and worked at the National Security Agency.
The former Navy officer and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy was the first Annapolis graduate to earn a joint undergraduate degree in computer science and weapons and systems engineering, according to his Linden Lab biography.
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