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 cabinMundt 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.”


Judge Zia Faruqui is trying to teach you crypto, one ‘SNL’ reference at a time

His decisions on major cryptocurrency cases have quoted "The Big Lebowski," "SNL," and "Dr. Strangelove." That’s because he wants you — yes, you — to read them.

The ways Zia Faruqui (right) has weighed on cases that have come before him can give lawyers clues as to what legal frameworks will pass muster.

Photo: Carolyn Van Houten/The Washington Post via Getty Images

“Cryptocurrency and related software analytics tools are ‘The wave of the future, Dude. One hundred percent electronic.’”

That’s not a quote from "The Big Lebowski" — at least, not directly. It’s a quote from a Washington, D.C., district court memorandum opinion on the role cryptocurrency analytics tools can play in government investigations. The author is Magistrate Judge Zia Faruqui.

Keep ReadingShow less
Veronica Irwin

Veronica Irwin (@vronirwin) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol covering fintech. Previously she was at the San Francisco Examiner, covering tech from a hyper-local angle. Before that, her byline was featured in SF Weekly, The Nation, Techworker, Ms. Magazine and The Frisc.

The financial technology transformation is driving competition, creating consumer choice, and shaping the future of finance. Hear from seven fintech leaders who are reshaping the future of finance, and join the inaugural Financial Technology Association Fintech Summit to learn more.

Keep ReadingShow less
The Financial Technology Association (FTA) represents industry leaders shaping the future of finance. We champion the power of technology-centered financial services and advocate for the modernization of financial regulation to support inclusion and responsible innovation.

AWS CEO: The cloud isn’t just about technology

As AWS preps for its annual re:Invent conference, Adam Selipsky talks product strategy, support for hybrid environments, and the value of the cloud in uncertain economic times.

Photo: Noah Berger/Getty Images for Amazon Web Services

AWS is gearing up for re:Invent, its annual cloud computing conference where announcements this year are expected to focus on its end-to-end data strategy and delivering new industry-specific services.

It will be the second re:Invent with CEO Adam Selipsky as leader of the industry’s largest cloud provider after his return last year to AWS from data visualization company Tableau Software.

Keep ReadingShow less
Donna Goodison

Donna Goodison (@dgoodison) is Protocol's senior reporter focusing on enterprise infrastructure technology, from the 'Big 3' cloud computing providers to data centers. She previously covered the public cloud at CRN after 15 years as a business reporter for the Boston Herald. Based in Massachusetts, she also has worked as a Boston Globe freelancer, business reporter at the Boston Business Journal and real estate reporter at Banker & Tradesman after toiling at weekly newspapers.

Image: Protocol

We launched Protocol in February 2020 to cover the evolving power center of tech. It is with deep sadness that just under three years later, we are winding down the publication.

As of today, we will not publish any more stories. All of our newsletters, apart from our flagship, Source Code, will no longer be sent. Source Code will be published and sent for the next few weeks, but it will also close down in December.

Keep ReadingShow less
Bennett Richardson

Bennett Richardson ( @bennettrich) is the president of Protocol. Prior to joining Protocol in 2019, Bennett was executive director of global strategic partnerships at POLITICO, where he led strategic growth efforts including POLITICO's European expansion in Brussels and POLITICO's creative agency POLITICO Focus during his six years with the company. Prior to POLITICO, Bennett was co-founder and CMO of Hinge, the mobile dating company recently acquired by Match Group. Bennett began his career in digital and social brand marketing working with major brands across tech, energy, and health care at leading marketing and communications agencies including Edelman and GMMB. Bennett is originally from Portland, Maine, and received his bachelor's degree from Colgate University.


Why large enterprises struggle to find suitable platforms for MLops

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, and as larger enterprises go from deploying hundreds of models to thousands and even millions of models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

As companies expand their use of AI beyond running just a few machine learning models, ML practitioners say that they have yet to find what they need from prepackaged MLops systems.

Photo: artpartner-images via Getty Images

On any given day, Lily AI runs hundreds of machine learning models using computer vision and natural language processing that are customized for its retail and ecommerce clients to make website product recommendations, forecast demand, and plan merchandising. But this spring when the company was in the market for a machine learning operations platform to manage its expanding model roster, it wasn’t easy to find a suitable off-the-shelf system that could handle such a large number of models in deployment while also meeting other criteria.

Some MLops platforms are not well-suited for maintaining even more than 10 machine learning models when it comes to keeping track of data, navigating their user interfaces, or reporting capabilities, Matthew Nokleby, machine learning manager for Lily AI’s product intelligence team, told Protocol earlier this year. “The duct tape starts to show,” he said.

Keep ReadingShow less
Kate Kaye

Kate Kaye is an award-winning multimedia reporter digging deep and telling print, digital and audio stories. She covers AI and data for Protocol. Her reporting on AI and tech ethics issues has been published in OneZero, Fast Company, MIT Technology Review, CityLab, Ad Age and Digiday and heard on NPR. Kate is the creator of and is the author of "Campaign '08: A Turning Point for Digital Media," a book about how the 2008 presidential campaigns used digital media and data.

Latest Stories