The NTBI Group is the partnership of SZYM Motors, Lusch Motors, Astaro, Tredpro, Gentek, NBS, Gentek Telecom, Jupiter Automotive, GEMC, FAYDED, Trifecta, GTMD, RiDECO, Lucetti, 3DL, and K-ACE. Retired brands include LMD, KYOTO, Sei Computing (absorbed into NBS), TAHDA Prefabricated (absorbed into Trifecta), Motor City Cars (absorbed into Crown Automotive), and Crown Automotive (absorbed into Jupiter Automotive).
Founded in 2008, the partnership was created to acknowledge the union of these different creators and their brands as one creative faction. The majority of the products purchasable from these stores are directed at the modern roleplay niche market of Second Life, but various brands occasionally branch out into broader fields.
When it was founded in 2008, SZYM, Lusch, LMD, Astaro, and Tredpro were listed as its founding members. As the partnership grew, several creators split into different brands to classify their products. The partnership currently consists of Will Szymborska, ac14 Hutson, Nelson Jenkins, Owen Lusch, Lyte Rae, BeckHan Ra, Faye Blackheart, Adel Button, Rena (guraa), and Hal Berkmans. Support, inactive, and retired members include Wolf Lumin, DriverKid Baxter, Empty Neutron, Sierra Komarov, Georg Markstein, Ozark Mayo, Hans Ehrlich, Jeffery Worbridge, aaps59 Aeon, and Nikko Dezno. Generally, members are classed either EXC (Executive), AFF (Affiliate), IS (Internal Services), or RET (Retired).
ac14 Hutson claims that the creation of the NTBI name was based off the meme "Series of Tubes", where Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens says "the internet is not a big truck". The letters NoT a Big Truck Industries (or Not a Big Truck Industries with the "B" and "T" letters swapped) formed the acronym NTBI. Another rumored explanation for the name is National Truck Builders International (or Industries). To some members it is also known as National Tire & Battery Incorporated. In any event, the NTBI acronym has been in use since the logo was created on May 9th, 2008, when ac14 Hutson sold company land under the new name.
The first NTBI-related project was the creation and sale of emergency vehicle attachment light kits produced by Tredpro for the LMD Interceptor and Enforcer in 2008. Ironically, these kits were produced to push Gentek out of the market, which had been selling similar kits for about a year. Soon after the partnership was formed, the stores of all NTBI brands (with the exception of LMD) were moved to the Bliss region to maximize store traffic by being placed alongside similar businesses. These light kits were soon discontinued due to the adoption of built in lighting over attachment lighting for emergency vehicles, even prior to mesh.
In 2010, Nelson Jenkins joined the partnership anyway, bringing Gentek into the fold. Gentek soon diversified heavily into building equipment to support NTBI's various construction efforts, abandoning the third-party lighting market. However, Gentek continued to produce essentially all emergency vehicle lighting built into NTBI vehicles from 2011 onward, and Nelson Jenkins eventually scripted the SPT and SPT2 powertrain script packages used in several NTBI vehicles.
In 2011, Adel Button and Hal Berkmans became members the partnership under the General Transportation Manufacturing Division (GTMD) and K-ACE brands, respectively. This helped Will Szymborska start the TAHDA brand at the same time, which created prefabricated urban roleplay buildings. K-ACE was selected to produce electronics compatible with the then-developing BTN, but after its abandonment in 2013, K-ACE shrunk its product lines to commercial furniture.
2012 is considered "NTBI's Golden Age" by many NTBI members. Many products were created during this period, and NTBI maintained several properties for development, offices, and recreation. Lyte Rae became a partner after briefly competing with SZYM and Astaro in the emergency vehicle market under the Motor City Cars (MCC) brand. Later, MCC was rebranded to Crown Automotive, and Lyte branched out to create Lucetti, a fashion brand, and 3DL, a furniture brand. Also in 2012, Nelson Jenkins and Will Szymborska jointly created the Sei Computing brand, tasked exclusively with creating the Mark 1 computer. DriverKid Baxter and Empty Neutron also started the KYOTO brand in 2012, which created small variety of roleplay tools, although it was closed about two years later. The mesh SZYM Intruder upgrade, created with the then-new SPT scripts, was also released in 2012 to bring SZYM into the mesh era. This included a variety of revolutionary products, such as Web Config, EVHUD 3, and the Global Fuel System. Gentek also launched the monumentally successful Condor Elevator, which contributed to the decline and eventual collapse of Union Micro, the largest elevator company in Second Life since 2004. Various other brands were inspired during this time, but were never publicly launched, such as GBC (a news network filmed in a studio in Second Life to run on BTN) and the RPSE (a simulated stock exchange).
In 2013, NTBI conceived of the Harrison roleplay sim, and most of its efforts throughout the year were aimed at creating various props and preparing buildings. Gentek released a broad update to the long-running IntelliDoor, now the second most profitable NTBI product behind the Condor Elevator, adding several new models. It also developed the IntelliLight system for use in Harrison, which was never publicly released.
Throughout 2014, development continued on Harrison, which was eventually opened on New Year's Eve. NTBI also briefly attempted to enter the aviation market during 2014 by building an airport, but land could not be secured. NTBI also designed a commercial airliner, but could not find a modeler able to reliably complete such a demanding project. However, SZYM released the mesh SZYM Entourage alongside an update to the Intruder, both scripted with SPT2, which proved to be a huge success. Will Szymborska and Nelson Jenkins also attempted to start a new brand, Jenco, which was a showroom for low-prim furniture for roleplayers to use, primarily in their Harrison rentals. However, since the furniture would be sold by third parties and Jenco was not paid, the brand was essentially abandoned. It is used occasionally for in-house products - for example, the ambient music in the Prototype Gardens Shopping Center was originally designed for Jenco under the name "Jenco Jazz".
In 2015, NTBI saw the rapid rise and fall of Harrison. Because of waning interest in urban roleplay, Harrison started to become unprofitable, and several NTBI members were extremely disheartened by its ultimate closure, so productivity slowed. However, NBS was created, which absorbed Sei Computing and the Mark 1 project, which was completely restarted from scratch. NTBI also continued to dabble in the aviation market, but still could not find a successful strategy to enter it.
In 2016, NBS launched the NorPhone with Gentek Telecom, a subsidiary of Gentek and the creator of the original genPhone prior to NTBI, to provide operator and payphone service. 2016 also saw the relaunch of Harrison with an ambitious plan to include two more regions. However, while Harrison was opened to the public, there were few roleplayers left, so the project failed again before the two new regions could be completed. The remainder of 2016 was spent mostly on NBS and Gentek Telecom facilities, development, and service. By this time, several NTBI brands had slowed to few, if any, product releases, but maintained their stores in Prototype.
2017 finally saw new additions to NTBI, with Rena (guraa) joining and launching RiDECO (a furniture and props company), BeckHan Ra joining with GEMC (a long-standing automotive company), and Faye Blackheart joining with FAYDED (another furniture and props company, which was launched in the original Harrison). The addition of these stores required an extensive expansion to the Prototype Gardens Shopping Center, completed in May.
In 2018, NTBI expanded the NTBI estate to four homesteads, which served as testing grounds for various internal projects and the home of the new Szym Tower IX. Gentek released its Delta Elevator, a long-awaited improvement upon its original Condor Elevator. NTBI resumed development on its commercial airliner project, but it was again stymied by a lack of modelers available.
In 2019, the NTBI estate was consolidated into a single full region. Szym Tower IX saw some minor modifications, and the single region was slightly redesigned to accommodate features seen in the original NTBI estate.
NTBI's original goal was to act as a partnership for sharing services. As it progressed, NTBI began holding several land parcels, and eventually used the Prototype region as a shared location for stores. Around 2011, the original Prototype Gardens Shopping Center was built, which was redesigned three times since. The tier each member contributes to the costs for this land, as well as its web services and other subscriptions, is shared according to each member's usage and varies due to a variety of factors, such as store size, use of NTBI's in-house update system, and use of more advanced services such as Web Config.
However, NTBI does not pool profits, aside from individual profit shares or payments for services provided between members, such as modeling, scripting, and texturing. Generally speaking, the profits from each brand go directly to the individual brand owner, and each brand owner controls their own brands practically exclusively. Individual members have very little control over others, and are generally free to do as they please, although members have typically agreed not to directly compete with each other.
By joining together, NTBI leverages its enormous brand awareness to the success of all members. Collectively, NTBI earns around L$10-20 million in reported revenue annually. This success has allowed it to successfully branch out into brand-new markets with little to no marketing effort. However, as NTBI members have lost much of their free time to real-life careers and demands, this growth is limited. Several members estimate that with enough free time or new additions, NTBI would easily go on to dominate several other key markets - as it stands, NTBI is generally focused on the shrinking roleplay market.
Despite this, NTBI maintains its strict adherence to self-perpetuated quality standards. While the overall goal of the partnership is to recognize all members as a group, the individual talents that make up the framework are critical, and being able to use them to their fullest for the benefit of all members brought NTBI to where it is today. The unrelenting attention to detail and perfectionism NTBI products show in the face of thousands of creators willing to cut corners is exemplified by the success of its most well-known products. Many NTBI members agree that the partnership's self-policing nature helped keep those strengths alive.
Most NTBI members are close friends outside of Second Life and have met in-person at several "NTBI conferences", typically conducted privately in the New York metro area.
LMD, SZYM, Astaro, Lusch, Jupiter, and GEMC are all well-established automotive manufacturers throughout the roleplay world and beyond. All members pride themselves on all-original in-house work, something very rare in Second Life vehicles.
Other brands produce a wide variety of products, such as building equipment, furniture, electronics, telecommunications, prefabricated buildings, and various roleplay equipment.
Prototype Gardens Shopping Center
Since 2008, all NTBI affiliated brands (except LMD) have been located in the Prototype region. The region has previously featured race tracks and various other motoring themed backdrops. In late 2011, the theme was changed to feature a large mall area housing all the different brands by all content creators in one area. In June 2012, the mall was rebuilt and expanded to house additional shops and a larger showroom for Astaro. In 2013, the mall was rebuilt again to more modern building standards. In 2017, the mall was expanded to fit new NTBI members' stores. In 2019, the Prototype region was closed after 11 years and the Prototype Gardens Shopping Center was moved to the NTBI region.
NTBI Group Headquarters
NTBI's Headquarters was located in Celaeno in 2008-2009, moved to Dominatium in 2010, and then to Lionheart Mufasa in 2011 alongside Gentek Interregional Tower. In 2012, it returned to and was rebuilt at the original site in Celaeno, and Gentek merged into the same building. The NTBI Celaeno Complex housed the offices for all NTBI brands and private residences of several NTBI affiliated employees. It also featured a list of other amenities, which varied throughout the different iterations of the building. The site was expanded dramatically in mid 2012, when the rest of the block was acquired. Then, in late 2012, the building was demolished and Szym Tower VII was built in its place, arguably the tallest building ever built by NTBI. However, in 2013, the headquarters was moved to the NTBI Development Campus in the private NTBI region. In 2015, alongside the development of the NorPhone, the NTBI region was renamed to Northbridge and eventually connected to Prototype for public access, making the headquarters public again. Throughout this period, the Northbridge region hosted a few different buildings, each considered the NTBI headquarters for its time. In 2018, the existing Northbridge building was demolished to make way for Szym Tower IX, which again became the NTBI headquarters. In 2019, the Northbridge region, along with the rest of the NTBI estate, was closed and replaced with a new NTBI region, which hosts both the Prototype Gardens Shopping Center and Szym Tower IX, among a variety of other buildings.
NTBI also maintains an office in the Hyperion region, near the location of the original SZYM Motors store in what used to be the Teen Grid. This building serves as the secondary headquarters should the NTBI region be unavailable.
NTBI has funded and hosted Cross Grid Rally twice. It is a gridwide mainland high speed rally style competition. Competitors are evaluated on how long they take to complete a stage, each event consisting of multiple stages. The rally event planning each year has called for the development of grid-way point reading HUDs, setting up and funding start and finish locations for each stage, as well as route planning and merchandise. A trial event was hosted among several NTBI members in 2007, with official large scale rallies publicly held in 2008 and 2011. Attendees are required to pay a sign-up fee for participation in the event.
NTBI also hosted the Update War event in the City of Concord in 2011 for the release of the 2012 SZYM Intruder and 2012 Astaro Imperial updates. After customers bought or received the product update, they were later asked to vote for their favorite product by use of a voting booth in Prototype.
NTBI has also hosted several launch parties for its major products, usually in Prototype. NTBI members also occasionally convene in Hyperion for special events.
The NTBI Security Service was NTBI's paid in-house protective staff for its properties and was also responsible for carrying out close protection services to important company employees. It was founded in 2008 and was in service on and off until early 2011. Members were regularly trained to handle dangerous roleplay scenarios and avoid them while visiting sensitive roleplay sims. The staff was also responsible for driving NTBI owned vehicles and managing land ban lists, handling griefing incidents, and other duties. While there are still security service employees, the full-time nature of the NTBISS program is no longer in effect as of 2012.