Mathew Honan at Wired has a wonderful profile of the geeky purveyor of gadgets and nerdy in-jokes. While the revenues cited are impressive, more so is how the company has managed to hang onto its values, even digging deeper with custom products designed and prototyped by their in-house Geek Labs.
In the 11 years since it was founded, ThinkGeek has become a sort of Sharper Image for sysadmins. You may have read a post on Gizmodo about the company’s Ladies of Star Wars playing cards or seen its T-shirts emblazoned with the chemical structure of caffeine on The Big Bang Theory. You may have received one of its Starfleet hip flasks at an office holiday party or spotted an Albert Einstein action figure on a coworker’s desk. For its target audience—sci-fi addicts, practical jokers, anyone who has ever worn a calculator watch—ThinkGeek inspires an Apple-like level of cultish adoration.
You can count me among that number though I do alright in keeping myself from sending all my discretionary income to Timmy, my monkey overlord. And if anyone from ThinkGeek is reading this, they have always been one of the few advertisers I would unhesitatingly allow on this site or in the podcast.
Along with his description of the Labs’ work on a new product and the no doubt grue infested, labyrinthine corridors of ThinkGeek HQ, Honan includes the sometimes rocky early history of the geek-trepreneurs. It only deepens the marvel that the company has remained true after over a decade of hawking its humorous and often useful wares.
VA Linux had big plans for its little subsidiary. “All of a sudden we had people telling us how to run the business,” Vadnais says. If ThinkGeek was selling novelty accessories, why not sell keyboards and monitors as well? “It was worse than that,” Vadnais says. “They wanted us to sell VHS players.”
Got it…need it…got it…want it…Oh, sorry, was looking at the drool inspiring inset in the article listing out many of the custom items ThinkGeek has come up with over the years. If you adore the site as much as I do, check out Honan’s article. Unless you wanted to hang onto your allowance for a little longer.