Rocks in the Rocket Science Lobby « Steve Blank
JUNE 1, 2009
Home Books for Startups Secret History-Bibliography Steve Blank Startup Resources Steve Blank Entries RSS | Comments RSS Categories Air Force (9) Ardent (9) Big Companies versus Startups: Durant versus Sloan (29) California Coastal Commission (3) Conservation (2) Convergent Technologies (1) Customer Development (98) Customer Development Manifesto (22) E.piphany (6) ESL (7) Family/Career (21) Market Types (9) Marketing (17) MIPS Computers (1) Rocket Science Games (7) Secret History of Silicon Valley (21) SuperMac (12) Teaching (9) Technology (39) Uncategorized (3) Venture Capital (18) Vertical Markets (5) Zilog (4) Recent Posts Who’s An Entrepreneur-Talk with the Kauffman Foundation Requiem For A Roommate Too Young to Know It Can’t be Done Strategy is Not a To Do List Why Pioneers Have Arrows In Their Backs Less is More, More or Less Panic at the Pivot – Aligning Incentives By Burning the Boats The Peter Pan Syndrome–The Startup to Company Transition You Negotiate Commodities, But You Seize Opportunities Job Titles That Can Sink Your Startup Archives October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 Other Stuff Steve Blank Startup Resources Secret History-Bibliography Books for Startups June 2009 M T W T F S S « May Jul » 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 Meta Register Log in Entries RSS Comments RSS WordPress.com Rocks in the Rocket Science Lobby Posted on June 1, 2009 by steveblank In 1994 Rocket Science Games was the only video game company with a rock in its lobby. We had moved our game development facilities from Berkeley and Palo Alto and consolidated into one building on Townsend Street in the “ South of Market neighborhood in San Francisco. (We’re were just around the corner from the future home of SF Giants AT&T Baseball Park , which then was just a rubble-strewn parking lot in a sketchy neighborhood.) Since we were the hip, new, edgy, “Hollywood meets Silicon Valley” video game company (more about “ big hat, no cattle ” startups in subsequent posts,) our office obviously had to match the image. Our receptionists’ desk was built on the wing of a WWII P-51 fighter plane, and the rest of the office décor matched. All that is, except for our lobby, as our offices were on the 4 th floor. When you got off the elevator, you faced a non descript corporate-looking set of walls. This was about the time Christies and Sotheby’s were starting to auction Soviet space program artifacts , and I was thinking that perhaps a spacesuit in the lobby would be appropriate given our name. One day, out for a walk at lunch, enjoying one of my favorite activities – watching them tear down the Embarcadero freeway (San Francisco urban upgrade post 1989 earthquake,) – I realized I was looking at the answer. And it was much, much better than a space suit. A week later as our employees came up the elevator there was a Lucite case on a pedestal with a single grey rock, lit with a single spotlight, on a velvet pillow. In front of it was a brass plaque that read: “ Moon rock, Apollo 18, July 1973 – Copernicus Crater.” For the next few years, people from all around South of Market would come by the Rocket Science Games lobby to see our moon rock. It added to the mystique of the company – which helped with raising money and getting press ink. Everyone agreed that having our own moon rock was way cool. ———————————— Postscript : In all that time, not a single person who admired the moon rock questioned its provenance or authenticity. A bit surprising considering the intersection between geekdom and space. Maybe it was just too much ancient history. NASA’s moon missions ended at Apollo 17. The rock was a piece of rubble from the Embarcadero Freeway. ———————————— Only over time would I realize it augured the future of the company. Filed under: Marketing , Rocket Science Games | Tagged: Steve Blank , Entrepreneurs « Vertical Markets 2: Customer/Market Risk versus Invention Risk Vertical Markets 3: Reducing Risk in Startups » 3 Responses Dan L , on June 25, 2009 at 2:56 pm Said: I’ve only recently discovered your website, haven’t read any of your books, but *this* is the story I’d like to hear. How did your skills in sales and marketing and your ability to discover and validate customers run aground at Rocket Science? Reply steveblank , on June 25, 2009 at 3:01 pm Said: Dan, I have a pile of those stories queued up for later this year. But the short answer: hubris. steve Michael F. Martin , on August 3, 2009 at 4:58 pm Said: Here’s another fun layer to add to this story. The traffic problems caused by the Embarcadero Freeway may have been an embodiment of a Braess’s Paradox. [link] ‘s_paradox Reply Leave a Reply Click here to cancel reply. Order Here. To Order Outside of the U.S. Now In Print! Steve Blanks 30 years of Silicon Valley startup advice. Follow me on twitter @sgblank Follow my speaking schedule on Plancast @sgblank RSS Feed RSS - Posts Email Subscription Blogroll Alexander Osterwalder Andrew Chen Ben Horowitz Brant Cooper Dave McClure Eric Ries Great Advice Lean Startup Circle Mark Suster – Both Sides of the Table Sean Ellis Sean Murphy To Be an Entrepreneur Tom Byers – Technology Ventures Venture Hacks Conservation California Audubon California Coastal Commission Coastal Commission Videos Peninsula Open Space Trust Customer Development Customer Development Methodology – slides Eric Ries on Customer Development Four Steps to the Epiphany – the book Maples Investments Stanford Entrepreneurial Leadership Talks by Steve Blank The Lean Startup by Eric Ries & Steve Blank – slides Secret History of Silicon Valley The Secret History of Silicon Valley – Dec 2009 slides The Secret History of Silicon Valley – video The Four Steps to the Epiphany now available in Japanese. Blog at WordPress.com. Theme: Digg 3 Column by WP Designer.