In this electronic global town hall meeting, Sam used the opportunity to announce a $100M investment in ten new business opportunities that were generated via their own unique online venue, our recent InnovationJam, which involved more than 150,000 people from 104 countries.
One of the ideas that emerged from this virtual jam was funding for R&D to accelerate the exploration of virtual worlds for use in business and society...the "3-D" Internet, if you will.
For those of us who have been early advocates inside Big Blue around the notion of "v-business," particuarly in Second Life, this is very exciting news, as it clearly indicates our own bullishness about the promise of virtual technologies in business, educational, medical, and other organizations that can benefit from a more visual Web environment.
There have been a number of IBMers who have been paving the way in this brave new world, working to establish new technologies and to build collaborative relationships and IBM and client "facilities" to explore business applications.
In today's meeting, Sam entered into a 3-D virtual world filled with more than 200 IBMers from around the globe -- Australia, Florida, India, Israel, New York, and dozens of other locations -- moving through various IBM "islands"in Second Life -- including the Almaden Research Island, Hursley Island and ThinkLand, where IBM recreated the Forbidden City.
The virtual participants were joined by IBM's chief scientist, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, and were able to watch a feed of Sam's talk from China, then interact with Sam's virtual avatar (hopefully they behaved themselves). During that interaction, Sam announced that a major part of the $100 million InnovationJam investment will be to innovate and build a business around the future of the Web with these immersive 3D environments and virtual worlds.
Just as we did in the early days of e-business and Linux, our goal is to build a community and drive the business opportunities for virtual business, or "v-business."
Having been at an Internet World press conference where IBM's commitment to "e-business" was announced over a decade ago, I'm very excited to see a similar commitment to these emerging virtual worlds, and to see them announced very much in the spirit and energy this new frontier presents to businesses and organizations around the globe.
If you've experienced them firsthand, you know that it's only the limits of your imagination that will shape what can be done there.