The Future Headquarters of Looney Labs

By Andrew Looney

Part 1: The Need for Space

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Looney Labs is growing fast. Kristin & I still have a hard time believing we have as many employees as we currently do, yet we're still understaffed, underfunded, and overworked. We have a long way yet to go, but we're well on our way. We've got incredible potential: we have a strong catalog of hit products and we're getting more popular all the time. We believe in our company and we know our future is big. And that means we're going to need more and more space.

We started Looney Labs in our basement, and our house is still used for office space, meetings, and storage. In early 2005, the company got a place of its own, in the attic of a neighborhood friend, but after only a year we've already outgrown this expansion. We've got 5 desks crammed in up there, and there's no room left to seat any new employees, much as we still need more help.

So what's next? Where do we, as a company, hope to be in 5 years? or 10 years? or 20? As we continue to grow, we will always be needing more office space... yet we live in an area where the cost of real estate is high. As we ponder new and yet larger corporate digs, the question must be asked: Is the Washington DC area really the best place for us to grow this business of ours?

Setting aside inertia and the personal feelings (and many local friendships) of our current employees, there are no good reasons for Looney Labs to stay in this region, and many reasons to move elsewhere. Since there are so many businesses and organizations which depend on being near the Nation's Capitol, rent around here is just going to keep getting worse and worse, as are other problems like the traffic and the general cost of living. And that's the best case scenario: what if there's a really bad terrorist attack?

But there's no need for us to be here to run this business. We're only here because this is where we started, and it's easier to stay near home than venture far afield. There are many other locations that would be better for our business than this one (and that's before I even mention any of my wildest dreams).

OK, so assuming we could just pick everything up and move to a totally new city: where should we go? What location would provide the best mix, for us, of low-cost living, safety from calamity, and optimum opportunity for all our biggest corporate dreams? And just what ARE this company's wildest dreams?

As the Creative Director for Looney Labs, my job is thinking stuff up, so I spend a lot of time pondering questions like these. But on a few more personal notes, we also want to move because:

  1. Much as we love our house, we look forward to moving on with lessons learned and starting to build a new even-cooler space with a bigger, better canvas.
  2. Being packrats who've lived in the same house for nearly two decades, we have a lot of junk in the corners which moving will force us to deal with.
  3. This house has at least tripled in value since we bought it, and we look forward to cashing in on that investment (so that we can use the money to buy something much bigger in a place were rent is a whole lot cheaper).
  4. I've lived in the same town my whole life and I don't want to grow old here (this is a feeling I call George Baileyitis). I want to experience life in another part of the world.
  5. Ever since I was a child, I've been obsessed with disasters, and I don't like living in what I perceive to be one of the most dangerous locations in the country. Just as I would never have chosen to move behind a levee in New Orleans, or anywhere along the earthquake-doomed west coast, nor at the base of a volcano, I don't like living within the danger zone of the very real possibility of a terrorist strike with a Weapon of Mass Destruction. During the Cold War, I shrugged off doomsday concerns because I figured everything would be wiped out so what difference did it make living near DC, but in our post-9/11 world, it seems far more likely to me that the next atomic bombing will be of just one city, rather than the start of a global thermonuclear war. I want to get away from the city with the biggest target on it while the getting is still good.

Where are we going? That's a good question. We've been debating it for years, but after thinking for a long time about moving to Canada, and then to Niagara Falls, we've decided we're really not sure where we want to go except away from the Washington Metropolitan Area.

Of course, no matter where we go, we will dearly miss the friends and family we will leave behind when we eventually undertake this grand plan, and we certainly hope nothing bad ever happens to our beloved Nation's Capitol, as we plan to visit often. But as I explain in the rest of this document, we have big dreams, and this just isn't the right place, in the long run, for us to build them. Sometimes you've got to move to be in the right place at the right time... just as Orville and Wilbur had to pick up and move to a region with the most favorable winds, so too will we be relocating to the best possible spot for us to build our future (after we decide, once and for all, where that will actually be).

The work of running the business itself is currently keeping us too busy to make much progress towards moving it. But surely though slowly, we are making plans to move, even though we don't know yet where we'll decide to go. But wherever we end up choosing, it will be a place where we can get plenty of space, but also not be in the middle of nowhere.

[Intro] 1 [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8]

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