Every company has its own unique culture. As the years progress, some of the rituals grow large but the meaning is often lost. This is not much different from any other cultural exchange that exists in the broader scope of human understanding.
Citrix has perhaps one of the more unique rituals involving shipping new products from Engineering. It started around 1992/3 after the initial wave of Citrix development. When Ed Janeczek was working with Bombay Furniture, one of our earliest customers, he was given a brass monkey with a small platter above its head. The monkey is probably about 8 inches (20 cm) high and is holding both sides of the platter. The tail is used to form a sort of tripod to make sure the monkey will not tip over. Bombay was showing their appreciation for the work EdJ had done with them to solve some issues. Bombay is often located in shopping malls in America and sells an assorted collection of housewares with a bit of a exotic and flashy flair. I haven’t been in America much lately so I don’t know if they are still doing well or if they still use Citrix.
Anyways, because of Bombay, EdJ was now the proud owner of a brass monkey best suited to serving small candies. I sat next to EdJ so we sometimes talked about Bombay and the story of the monkey. I remember a few jokes going around about the freezing of the brass monkey.
During one of our releases, as a joke, someone suggested using the brass monkey in our release party. Then someone else joked that we should put our product disks on top of it. Then someone else said we should look into the eyes of the monkey. I remember it being funny and yet everyone decided it was a good idea to stare down the monkey to prove, that as developers, we were not afraid of shipping the product. It was a test of will, with a big sense of humor.
It was suggested that if the monkey tipped over or that someone could not stare into the monkey’s eyes, that it would be bad luck for that release.
Somehow, the monkey ceremony became the standard mechanism to ship products within Citrix. The products were loaded on top of the monkey and everyone got the chance to look into the eyes.
I actually have some pictures of a shipping party in 1996 with the monkey ceremony. Keep in mind that some people in these pictures are still doing work while the ceremony was going on. I couldn’t tell you which product was being shipped but I would guess a version of WinFrame (perhaps 1.6).
It is interesting to note that the monkey ceremony still exists within Citrix. I have even seen the Monkey in Sydney, Australia within the last couple of years.
Here’s to you EdJ!
And thanks to Bombay for giving us one of the most unusual rituals I know of.