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 4th floor. When you got off the elevator, you faced a non descript corporate-looking set of walls.
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.