Monday, June 02, 2008

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In Linden: My Mixed Reality Visit To Linden Lab

Where Linden and Google Maps Meet

Recently I stopped by the Lindens' new HQ on Battery Street in San Francisco, to sign copies of my book, catch up with old Linden friends, and meet some of the literally hundreds of new Lindens that've joined since I stopped contracting for the company in March 2006.  I say "new HQ", but they were already in the process of migrating from their Sansome office in early 2007, when I last stopped by to do interviews for the book, tracking their growth as a company that began in 1999 in a warehouse on a dubious Hayes Vallley sidestreet called Linden.  After break, get a glimpse of where they are now, a photographic tour featuring a visit with M. Linden, a profound carpet and a mohawk-topped shrine... and, of course, a cute puppy.


At the Linden entrance with Kona and his second bulldog, Moxie.  Glimpsed just behind us is the equally adorable Ashlei, who masterfully coordinated the event. (Photo by Jeff Linden.)


Ramp to the main floor.


On the main floor.  If you're expecting office cubicles, you'll be disappointed.  As was the case in the 2nd Street location (2001-2004) and the Sansome office (2004-2007), it's an open architecture design, only now laid out on three floors.  No cubicles, and seemingly no right angles or straight lines-- a somewhat disorienting experience.  Jeska Linden had the most succinct way to describe the latest Linden Lab office: "It's like CTU office in 24... I keep expecting Jack Bauer to come running up the stairs."  (Chloe I need the coordinates of the flexipenis griefer sent to my PDA.  WE DON'T HAVE MUCH TIME.)


Signing M. Linden's copy of my book.  As it happened, he was only days on the job when I visited in mid-May, and our short chat hit most of the points he later discussed in his first official blog post: being blown away by the passion of the community, for example, and being especially focused on connecting new users with it.  Also revealed: M Linden has an inexplicable craving for Swedish Fish.  (I had the strawberry one.)


View from the command center-- that's M. Linden's empty chair, across from Catherine, Jeska, and Steven.


Above his desk, M. Linden's acceptance of Philip's offer to become the new CEO, conveyed via carpet.  This is a square of rug with an angular pattern that M. re-purposed  for a unique purpose. That and the message he wrote there suggests a lot about his future tenure, I think.


... then again, this could be the fulcrum of Linden wisdom-- the nearby shrine, posing the age-old (well, at least since The A-Team) adage, "WWMrTD?"-- What Would Mr. T DO? (Possible answer: star in WoW commercials.)


Basement level now, with an anonymous comely Linden, in a corridor lined with framed media stories on SL.


Basement level floor, mostly dominated by Linden programmers. 


Lunchroom kitchen, decorated with framed screenshots.


Basement game area, featuring the Xbox 360 hooked up to bigscreen projector.  Programmers Don and Steve Linden were pointing out notable graphics features of GTA IV as I passed by.  (This is only part of the game area, by the way, as this is adjacent to a console station and a couple classic coin-operated videogames.)


The Resident whiteboard.  Since 2003, it's been a tradition for visiting Residents to sign their avatar names to a whiteboard near the entrance.  Rather than leave them behind, the Lindens yanked them off the wall and brought them along, twice.  Come to think of it, the whiteboards of Residents' names are probably the most prominent items that have lasted through the last five years of Linden's corporate existence.


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Laetizia Coronet

The building breaths a highschool or university atmosphere to me, especially the lower part of it. But then I only know some European universities from the inside.
I wouldn't go as far as making conlusions on that observation. It's nice to get a view of their workspace though, these people I have so often dealt with. I am so much of a realist that I don't picture them in-world when talking to them, but in an office :-)

Katharine Berry

When I was there they had two whiteboards stacked on eachother in the old office. This one appears to be in the new office, and there's only one there. What happened to the other?

They also sneaked me into a bar while I was there. Hehe.

(And in what was is it "mixed reality" other than the picture at the top?


Looks like a definite upgrade from the Sansome digs. Gotta love that more "democratic" open architecture style. Where's Phillip's desk now?

Rusalka Writer

Very cool space. Makes me regret my liberal arts education.


This does not give me any confidence that they will be solving performance problems any time soon.

Hamlet Au

"there's only one there"

The second one is seen behind the shoulder of me, Kona, and Moxie.

Mitch Wagner

Nice! I visited in January. It's a well-designed office, looks great and looks like a place where you can get a lot of work done too. I liked the coffee shop across the street. Couldn't get a Wi-Fi signal there - I really wanted to log in just so I could be IN SECOND LIFE WHILE SITTING ACROSS THE STREET FROM LINDEN LAB HEADQUARTERS AND EVERYONE'S HEAD WOULD ASPLODE FROM THE EXPERIENCE THAT WOULD BE SO META!

Hamlet Au


"Makes me regret my liberal arts education."

You shouldn't-- offhand, I can think of maybe ten longtime Lindens with literature/philosophy/fine arts degrees.

Marianne McCann

Alas, I've only been on the outside of dat building. I did meet at least one of the dogs, though. He was out for a walk. :-)

Paisley Beebe

hmmmm looks like all PC's to me does anyone use a Mac in hoo are we Maccers all lost....please tell me you saw a mac somewhere????

Bettina Tizzy

What a cool post! Second Life ought to have something like this on their own website... maybe in the community section. It makes a resident feel like they are in the hands of real people.

Extropia DaSilva

So the programmers are down in the basement. Was there, by any chance, a poster declaring 'I WANT TO BELIEVE'?

Isadora Fiddlesticks

looks like my kind of office/company. any office that allows pets, lets you wear jeans, and has an open floor plan is my kind of office.

note to the one commenting about performance issues, don't judge the office by its looks, they do work so hard, they might as well play just as hard! :)

Marianne McCann

Very cool office - an now my name is on the whiteboard, too. :-)

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