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EMI hires 'Second Life' co-founder

Record label continues to hire tech whiz kids to help it navigate the Digital Age. Its latest addition: virtual-world designer Cory Ondrejka, who will serve as SVP of digital strategy.

Cory Ondrejka

Struggling record label EMI Group continues to turn to the technology sector for leadership as it attempts to navigate the Digital Age. The music label hired Cory Ondrejka, one of the founders of Linden Lab's virtual world, Second Life.

Ondrejka was named senior vice president of digital strategy, EMI said in a statement. The hiring comes two months after EMI hired Douglas Merrill, Google's former chief information officer.

Ondrejka left Linden Labs in December. Ondrejka helped design "big parts" of Second Life. published an internal e-mail from Philip Rosedale, CEO of Linden Lab, saying he and Ondrejka couldn't agree on how the company should be run and that it was Rossdale's decision that Ondrejka should leave.

Ondrejka on Monday said he left when it was time to go in "a different direction." In the half year since his departure from the company, he has been teaching at the University of Southern California. In talks with Merrill about music, the possibility of joining him sounded attractive.

What Ondrejka says he can bring to the music industry is an understanding of the "problems that intersect at technology, communications, social networking, and media."

But don't look for EMI to get into the virtual-world business. Ondrejka said he joined EMI for a totally different experience.

"I spent seven years at Second Life," Ondrejka said. "I designed part of the site, hired a lot of smart people who are still there...I don't want to go do that again. A big part of what makes [the EMI position] so exciting is that it presents a completely new set of challenges."