Personal Space

Looks like an office, smells like an office . . . well, even if it doesn't, it's an office.
Magazine Contributor
3 min read

This story appears in the May 2000 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Gone are the days of oceans of gray pinstripes and coffee breaks at precisely 10 a.m. Today's office cultures are as distinct as, well, you are. Offices reflect not only entrepreneurs' personalities but those of your employees as well. Here's a peek inside the headquarters of three very different companies:

Pretty Fly

Headquartered in San Francisco, flyswat Inc., a company that creates tools and services for Internet browsing, epitomizes young Net culture at its finest. Twentysomething founders John Rodkin, Raymond Krouse and Leo Chang, have dumped 3,000 pounds of sand in their office to create an indoor beach complete with banana plants and tiki torches-a good complement to walls emblazoned with green grass and blue skies, and a central boardroom turned game room. Why the outdoor motif? When you and your 60-plus employees often work 70-plus-hour weeks, the office better be fun and convenient. And convenient it is--flyswat buys dinner four nights a week, has a fully stocked kitchen, futons for sleepovers, laundry facilities and a shower.

A Place Like Home

When you enter the 1912 converted farmhouse of Mission Critical Systems Inc., a systems and network security firm in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, you may be greeted with wagging tails and loving licks. No, owners Susan Crabtree and Frank Darden aren't that desperate for business; they have a pet-friendly policy. Alongside Crabtree's two shelties, you'll find 10 casually dressed employees with professional clothes (khakis and polo shirts) at the ready for client calls. The crew relaxes during Friday happy hours and office barbecues.

Like Kids, Like Parent Company

Though Hot Topic Inc. has moved a bit out of the realm of small business, founder Orval Madden still runs this publicly traded company with his original theme intact: music. Selling music-licensed and music-influenced apparel and accessories to teenagers in 212 malls across America, the 100 employees in Hot Topic's City of Industry, California, headquarters look a lot like the kids they market to. Dyed hair and piercings abound in the open office environment where employees sit three feet away away from the CEO and watch MTV on monitors hanging overhead to keep up with the latest alternative music trends. And Hot Topic offers the best perk we've heard of lately: Any employee who returns from a concert with a fashion report gets their ticket price reimbursed.

Book 'Em

Herb Kay isn't one to mince words. If you want to live comfortably after 40 years of safe investments, that's fine. But if you want to be filthy, stinking rich before you're gray, then check out Kay's aptly titled How to Get Filthy, Stinking Rich and Still Have Time for Great Sex (Bard Press, $19.95). Kay delivers a lightning quick course in Entrepreneurship 101, punctuated with his natural motivational speaking tone, on basics like funding, business plans and LLC vs. corporation status. But what sets this work apart is the sex stuff. Don't get too hot under the collar--Kay uses sex as a metaphor for everything you enjoy doing outside the office and how being stinking rich can help you create a balance between your personal and work lives.

Contact Sources

flyswat Inc.,

Hot Topic Inc., (626) 839-4681,

Mission Critical Systems Inc., (877) 744-3444

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