In Linden: My Mixed Reality Visit To Linden Lab
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.