|Founded||August 13, 1999|
|Headquarters||Fairfax, Virginia, USA|
ThinkGeek is an American online retailer that caters to computer enthusiasts and other "geeky" social groups. Described as a "Sharper Image for sysadmins", their merchandise, which caters to geek culture, has been likened to "toys for adults, novelties designed to appeal to both your inner child and your inner grad student." These include clothing, electronic and scientific gadgets, unusual computer peripherals, office toys, pet toys, child toys, and caffeinated drinks and candy. ThinkGeek was founded in 1999, is based in Fairfax, Virginia, and is owned by Geeknet, a unit of GameStop.
ThinkGeek was founded in 1999, and originally based in downtown McLean, Virginia. The company was founded by Jen Frazier, Jon Sime, Scott Smith, and Willie Vadnais, all of whom were running a small Internet startup (ISP) at the time, with ThinkGeek initially starting as a side project. The website's official launch date was August 13, 1999. Andover.net, a Boston area technology news publisher, acquired ThinkGeek in October 1999. Only a few months later Andover.net was acquired by VA Linux, a California-based tech company that specialized in Linux hardware and software products. VA Linux, after several name changes, became Geeknet, the current parent company of ThinkGeek.
In August 2000, the company moved its offices to Fairfax, Virginia where it has been based ever since. ThinkGeek grew steadily and increased the number of employees from six in 2004 up to 83 in 2013. Company revenues also increased during this time period, reaching $118.9 million in 2012.
On May 26, 2015, it was announced that pop culture-oriented retailer Hot Topic had made an offer to acquire Geeknet and ThinkGeek for $17.50 per-share, valuing the company at $122 million. However, on May 29, 2015, it was revealed that an unspecified company had made a counter-offer of $20 per-share; Hot Topic was given until June 1, 2015 to exceed this new offer. On June 2, 2015, it was announced that video game retail chain GameStop had acquired Geeknet for $140 million. The deal closed on July 17, 2015.
A majority of products sold on ThinkGeek are heavily related to (and sometimes only understood within) Internet culture. Some T-shirt designs include a figure with a detached buttocks, with "LMAO" as the caption, a ROFLCOPTER (an ASCII drawing of a helicopter made of internet slang), the Intel Pentium Processor logo replacing "Intel" with "Geek", and a pixellated 1up Mushroom from the Super Mario Brothers games series.
ThinkGeek runs a points-for-reward system called Geek Points, under which customers can earn rewards for buying more products.
On April 1 every year, the company posts a fake homepage with absurd fictional products. For example, in 2007 it advertised "Surge Stix", cigarette-like high potency caffeine delivery systems that, when snapped like a glow stick, supposedly deliver as much caffeine as five cans of Coca-Cola. Some of the April Fool's Day products have been so popular with users that they have been made into actual products, such as the 8-Bit Tie, the Personal Soundtrack T-shirt, the Tauntaun sleeping bag and the iCade.
Most of ThinkGeek's merchandise are licensed from various science fiction and fantasy media franchises such as Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, Marvel Comics, Doctor Who, Minecraft, and The Big Bang Theory. Other products offered by the company include classic pop cultural icons like the Magic 8-Ball, or products inspired by science, such as a Schrödinger's Cat Executive Decision Maker.
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- "Hot Topic to Acquire Geeknet, Inc., Parent Company of Online Retailer ThinkGeek". PR Newswire. May 26, 2015.
- Macy, Seth G. (May 26, 2015). "Hot Topic Buys ThinkGeek Parent Company". IGN.
- Masnick, Mike (April 11, 2013). "Fox Sends Cease & Desist Letters To Firefly Fans Selling Jayne Hats, Because Money". Techdirt.
- Yamshon, Leah (July 19, 2013). "'I almost got sued for knitting a Firefly hat': The legal risks of pop-culture fan art". TechHive.
- Cooper, Daniel (May 27, 2015). "Hot Topic is buying ThinkGeek". Engadget.
- "Hot Topic buying Geeknet for about $117.3 million". Los Angeles Times. May 26, 2015.