Boston might boast one of today's hottest tech communities, but a Beantown animation company thinks L.A. is the place to be.

Bali Hai Entertainment Inc. provides interactive online entertainment for children and families, and is moving its corporate headquarters and operations into a new office in the Mid-Wilshire area.

President Tracy Huston decided at the turn of the New Year to move the company to L.A., primarily to be near creative talent in terms of both prospective employees and potential strategic partners.

"Boston is a tremendous place for technology, but it lacks the entertainment-industry sensibility," said Huston, in a phone interview last week from her Massachusetts home. "We feel a closer kinship with the folks creating stories than with the technology community. What we want to tap into in terms of the talent and expertise is out there, it's not here."

Huston arrived in L.A. just in time for the World Animation Celebration last weekend. The company's 25 employees will have relocated here by July 1, and the new 13,000-square-foot office space will accommodate a planned expansion that will double the staff over the next year.

Huston founded Bali Hai, at www.balihighway.com, in 1997. "It was formed for artists who wanted to create literature of value and art of value, and at the same time give kids and their parents what they want in terms of interactivity and game-like qualities," she said.

Balihighway.com's features include "Fractal Fairy Tales," in which an educational story unfolds as users click on various animated graphics, such as a fluttering butterfly or a spinning globe.

A Dubious Distinction

Tech companies with a full-service video arcade in the middle of the office probably need not apply, but if your workspace is drab and depressing, you could win $10,000 in furniture.

Malibu-based SmallOffice.com has joined with a San Francisco-based business furnishings sales site, NextOffice.com, to spearhead a contest to find "America's Ugliest Office."

Judgment criteria will include clutter, bad color schemes, poor design, bad furniture and lighting, and overall tackiness. A panel of five judges will narrow the submissions down to the worst five offices, and SmallOffice.com users will vote on the ultimate winner (or is it loser?).

Entrants can e-mail photos of their offices by June 15 to uglyoffice@smalloffice.com. And keep in mind that you've got to impress celebrity judge Max Gail, who played Detective WoJo on "Barney Miller," set in a hideously ugly police precinct/jail. Good luck!

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