Tony Hawk's office is way cooler than yours. You wouldn't really know that from the outside: It's one in a line of uninspired beige warehouses in Vista, Calif. Inside, though, the place is anything but beige.
There's an eccentric, edgy vibe. The defining feature is not a block of cubicles, but rather a half-pipe--a staggering wooden structure that is the company's R&D facility. To one side of the half-pipe sits a ski gondola that Hawk plans to put in the backyard of his mountain retreat. Skateboards and piles of skate shoes line the walls. Bone-cracking music pulses throughout (on our photo shoot day, a mix of Jane's Addiction and Metallica). This office, quite literally, rocks.
Tony Hawk Carves Out a New Niche
We decided to profile Hawk not because he's a cool skater dude with a cool office (which, of course, he is), but because he's a savvy and intelligent entrepreneur who parlayed his enthusiasm for skateboarding into an empire. His enterprises span beyond rail slides and half-pipes. In many ways, Hawk represents the new entrepreneurial mogul: The modest, shrewd, cool, shorts-wearing, Gen X business innovator who hates suits (but always answers his wife's calls).
His instincts and his brand have combined to create incredibly successful businesses, and he consistently ranks as one of the highest-paid action-sports athletes in the United States. His video games alone have generated more than $1.6 billion in sales since 1999, and his newest release--Tony Hawk Ride, which puts gamers in the half-pipe on a skateboard controller--is slated for release Nov. 17.
In Gary Cohn's article, Hawk offers up insight on how he became a serial entrepreneur, and how passion for his sport keeps his business and his brand dynamic, young and innovative. He also speaks candidly about the struggles and challenges of being an entrepreneur, and his consistent strategy for launching new ideas--and coping with failure.
As we wrapped the photo shoot, I asked Hawk which of his lines was his favorite.
His answer: "Birdhouse Projects, which is my first company, because it is who I am--a skater--and I've stayed true to that."
Stayed true, indeed. All the way down to making his boardroom a half-pipe.
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Amy C. Cosper,