Workplace

He couldn’t go to the cabin, so he brought the cabin to his cubicle

"Building forts” has long been a passion of Lucas Mundt's. Now, his employer plans to give out $200 stipends for cubicle decor.

Cubicle designed like a cabin

Lucas Mundt scoured Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace to complete his masterpiece.

Photo: Mike Beckham

It took a little work to get viral cubicle-decorator Lucas Mundt on the phone. On Monday, he was taking a half-day to help a friend fix his laminate floor. Tuesday, I caught him in the middle of an officewide Pop-A-Shot basketball tournament. His employer, the Oklahoma water bottle-maker Simple Modern, was getting rid of the arcade-style hoops game, and “glorious prizes and accolades” were on the line, Mundt said. (CEO Mike Beckham was eliminated in the first round, I heard from a source.)

Why did I want to talk with Mundt? His cubicle astonished nearly 300,000 Twitter users this week after Beckham tweeted out photos of it converted into what can only be described as a lakeside cabin motif. Using leftover laminate flooring that he found on Facebook Marketplace, Mundt created the appearance of a hardwood floor, and he carefully applied contact paper to give his cubicle walls, desk and file cabinet the look of a cozy cabin. The space heater that looks like a wood stove? Purely decorative: Mundt runs hot. The two fake mounted animal heads? They’re “kind of ironic,” said Mundt, who’s never gone hunting.

“I love being in the mountains,” said Mundt. “Love camping. Love hiking.”

Loving the outdoors is one thing; spending 12 hours on the weekend scoring mostly secondhand decor, including light fixtures, a leather chair and a faux sheepskin rug, is another. On Sunday night, with Beckham’s blessing, Mundt went into the office to remove the ceiling tiles above his cubicle and hang a large chandelier. It’s remote-activated, Mundt said.

This isn’t the first time Mundt’s handiness has wowed his colleagues. As a gift on Boss’ Day, Mundt set up a button at his manager’s desk that would shut the door to his office.

And the cubicle didn’t surprise old friends of Mundt’s, some of whom came across the photos and messaged him that “this is the most on-brand thing” for Mundt, who’s always been handy and loved to build forts while he was growing up in Illinois. As a ministry student at Mid-America Christian University, Mundt even built a 10-by-12-foot screened-in porch on a balcony he shared with a neighboring dorm room. Knowing he wasn’t allowed to make any permanent changes to the balcony, Mundt built the porch overnight.

“I think I was too impressed to get anyone in trouble,” Mundt’s then-resident director messaged him last week, recalling the porch after he saw photos of Mundt’s tricked-out cubicle.

Cubicle designed like a cabin Mundt removed the ceiling tiles above his cubicle and hung a large, remote-activated chandelier.Photo: Mike Beckham

Mundt didn’t become a minister after graduating, and instead went into IT security in the oil and gas industry. When Mundt was between jobs last summer, some friends hooked him up with a temporary warehouse role at Simple Modern, as the company dealt with a manufacturing issue. He quickly became the project manager on the job, “I think because I was, like, 12 years older than the next person,” Mundt said with a laugh. After that project was done, Simple Modern kept Mundt on as a logistics analyst.

“I got to just see the culture of the company, even at the warehouse level, and the fact that all of their employees were coming in to work in this hot warehouse on a rotational basis to fix these things,” Mundt said. “The CEO would get in the line fixing these straws with these high schoolers.”

Beckham certainly takes pride in building a positive work culture. His last venture, the retail auction site QuiBids, was successful enough that he was able to co-found Simple Modern without outside investors.

“Because I don’t have to be as profit-driven, I can just be like, ‘This is fun. This adds to people’s quality of life,’” Beckham said. “It’s just a goal of creating a work environment where people feel like they can enjoy their time at work as much as they enjoy their time outside of work.”

For that reason, now that he’s seen what Mundt created, Beckham is planning to give each employee $200 or $300 to decorate their space. And Mundt has been helping colleagues brainstorm their own tricked-out workspaces. Some of the more promising ideas include a beach theme and a backyard barbecue aesthetic, he said.

So, with so much to retweet on Twitter, why did Mundt’s cubicle go viral? Beckham thinks it’s because of the way the last two years of remote work have changed workers’ relationships to their offices.

“We’re working in spaces that are comfortable to us, that we control. Offices are typically these sterile environments where we don’t feel as connected,” Beckham said. “Now, people are going back to the office. It really resonates, this idea of humanizing and making your work environment a place that you like to go, as opposed to a place that you have to go.”

That likely rings true for Mundt, who for various reasons has moved apartments five times in the last year and a half. “I haven’t really been settled enough to really establish myself that long,” Mundt said. “My office is way more detail-oriented than my apartment.”

Policy

Musk’s texts reveal what tech’s most powerful people really want

From Jack Dorsey to Joe Rogan, Musk’s texts are chock-full of überpowerful people, bending a knee to Twitter’s once and (still maybe?) future king.

“Maybe Oprah would be interested in joining the Twitter board if my bid succeeds,” one text reads.

Photo illustration: Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images; Protocol

Elon Musk’s text inbox is a rarefied space. It’s a place where tech’s wealthiest casually commit to spending billions of dollars with little more than a thumbs-up emoji and trade tips on how to rewrite the rules for how hundreds of millions of people around the world communicate.

Now, Musk’s ongoing legal battle with Twitter is giving the rest of us a fleeting glimpse into that world. The collection of Musk’s private texts that was made public this week is chock-full of tech power brokers. While the messages are meant to reveal something about Musk’s motivations — and they do — they also say a lot about how things get done and deals get made among some of the most powerful people in the world.

Keep Reading Show less
Issie Lapowsky

Issie Lapowsky ( @issielapowsky) is Protocol's chief correspondent, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. She also oversees Protocol's fellowship program. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University's Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing.

Sponsored Content

Great products are built on strong patents

Experts say robust intellectual property protection is essential to ensure the long-term R&D required to innovate and maintain America's technology leadership.

Every great tech product that you rely on each day, from the smartphone in your pocket to your music streaming service and navigational system in the car, shares one important thing: part of its innovative design is protected by intellectual property (IP) laws.

From 5G to artificial intelligence, IP protection offers a powerful incentive for researchers to create ground-breaking products, and governmental leaders say its protection is an essential part of maintaining US technology leadership. To quote Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo: "intellectual property protection is vital for American innovation and entrepreneurship.”

Keep Reading Show less
James Daly
James Daly has a deep knowledge of creating brand voice identity, including understanding various audiences and targeting messaging accordingly. He enjoys commissioning, editing, writing, and business development, particularly in launching new ventures and building passionate audiences. Daly has led teams large and small to multiple awards and quantifiable success through a strategy built on teamwork, passion, fact-checking, intelligence, analytics, and audience growth while meeting budget goals and production deadlines in fast-paced environments. Daly is the Editorial Director of 2030 Media and a contributor at Wired.
Fintech

Circle’s CEO: This is not the time to ‘go crazy’

Jeremy Allaire is leading the stablecoin powerhouse in a time of heightened regulation.

“It’s a complex environment. So every CEO and every board has to be a little bit cautious, because there’s a lot of uncertainty,” Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire told Protocol at Converge22.

Photo: Circle

Sitting solo on a San Francisco stage, Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire asked tennis superstar Serena Williams what it’s like to face “unrelenting skepticism.”

“What do you do when someone says you can’t do this?” Allaire asked the athlete turned VC, who was beaming into Circle’s Converge22 convention by video.

Keep Reading Show less
Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers crypto and fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Google Voice at (925) 307-9342.

Enterprise

Is Salesforce still a growth company? Investors are skeptical

Salesforce is betting that customer data platform Genie and new Slack features can push the company to $50 billion in revenue by 2026. But investors are skeptical about the company’s ability to deliver.

Photo: Marlena Sloss/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Salesforce has long been enterprise tech’s golden child. The company said everything customers wanted to hear and did everything investors wanted to see: It produced robust, consistent growth from groundbreaking products combined with an aggressive M&A strategy and a cherished culture, all operating under the helm of a bombastic, but respected, CEO and team of well-coiffed executives.

Dreamforce is the embodiment of that success. Every year, alongside frustrating San Francisco residents, the over-the-top celebration serves as a battle cry to the enterprise software industry, reminding everyone that Marc Benioff’s mighty fiefdom is poised to expand even deeper into your corporate IT stack.

Keep Reading Show less
Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a writer-at-large at Protocol. He previously covered enterprise software for Protocol, Bloomberg and Business Insider. Joe can be reached at JoeWilliams@Protocol.com. To share information confidentially, he can also be contacted on a non-work device via Signal (+1-309-265-6120) or JPW53189@protonmail.com.

Policy

The US and EU are splitting on tech policy. That’s putting the web at risk.

A conversation with Cédric O, the former French minister of state for digital.

“With the difficulty of the U.S. in finding political agreement or political basis to legislate more, we are facing a risk of decoupling in the long term between the EU and the U.S.”

Photo: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Cédric O, France’s former minister of state for digital, has been an advocate of Europe’s approach to tech and at the forefront of the continent’s relations with U.S. giants. Protocol caught up with O last week at a conference in New York focusing on social media’s negative effects on society and the possibilities of blockchain-based protocols for alternative networks.

O said watching the U.S. lag in tech policy — even as some states pass their own measures and federal bills gain momentum — has made him worry about the EU and U.S. decoupling. While not as drastic as a disentangling of economic fortunes between the West and China, such a divergence, as O describes it, could still make it functionally impossible for companies to serve users on both sides of the Atlantic with the same product.

Keep Reading Show less
Ben Brody

Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with.

Latest Stories
Bulletins