FastCompany has a new profile on LeapFrog, the electronic children's toy company. I own several of their toys which Alex really, really likes. The drum is great (in Spanish) and the keyboard is cool as well (in English) and Tad the Frog sings him goodnight tunes. I can't wait until he gets old enough to start playing with the books (another 6 months or so at least).
I didn't realize that the company was in Oakland! Very cool... Not only is it a Bay Area company, it's a company that's doing extremely well:
Apparently, LeapFrog never got the memo that 1999 is over. The company's headquarters, which occupies a sprawling renovated warehouse in an industrial no-man's-land north of Oakland, crackles with energy. Every square foot of the hangar-sized building is honeycombed with cubicles belonging to some 800 people. (The dearth of available space has forced more than a few LeapFroggers to encamp in the hallways.) LeapFrog's rapid growth has resulted in a hiring blitz that forced the company to move to ever-larger spaces three times in the past three-and-a-half years. The company plans to expand again within the next few months.
Except for an 80-person tech team based in Los Gatos and an international network of satellite sales-and-marketing offices, all of LeapFrog's staffers work under one roof. That's because LeapFrog does everything in-house, from designing product, to mapping out educational components, to developing ASIC chips, to coding software, to producing audio, to writing and illustrating content, to running focus groups, to testing product, to strategizing the marketing plans. Nothing is farmed out to subcontractors. At issue is quality control: LeapFrog believes that it can do a better job if it does the job itself.
I think working for a toy company would be pretty damn fun. I used to work above a sales office for Legos a couple months ago and I was super jealous at all the cool stuff they had in there! Maybe I should apply for a job at Nintendo or something...