Tech co-founder urges Indy to reconsider Bird scooters
Below is a letter written by Shawn Schwegman, co-founder and CSO of DemandJump, sent to the City of Indianapolis to reflect on the new Bird scooters and the recent request from the city officials asking Bird to suspend services.
I read your letter regarding the request to Bird to suspend operations, and I wanted to share my candid feedback. First, I certainly understand the need to ensure public safety, and I also recognize that you’re probably hearing a ton of feedback from other “Monday morning quarterbacks.”
I’ll start by saying that I have no affiliation with Bird. I’ve spent my life building new and innovative companies, and I’m not from Indianapolis. That said, I’ve spent more time in Indianapolis than any other city, I’ve built my company here, and I care about the growth and prosperity of this city, which is why I’ve been here for almost a decade.
However, I must admit that I felt both frustration and sadness when I read your letter. I would encourage you to see the benefit of a new and innovative business model that provides a greener, cleaner, and lower cost alternative to transportation, as well as a revenue stream to the common working person. Respectfully, I’m not sure that asking a new innovative tech company to suspend operations for 30 days sends the right message to tech companies both in the city and around the world.
What kind of message are we sending Amazon, who is searching for a new headquarters when we immediately ask a company to suspend operations for 30 days because they’re doing something new? Do you think Amazon wants to move operations to that type of city?
What kind of message are we sending the Indianapolis tech community when the government gets involved to shut down operations and stifle innovation? Do you realize that 30 days of no revenue not only cripples new companies, it could destroy them. While Bird has raised plenty of cash to weather the storm, the last thing we want is Indianapolis tech founders to stop innovating because of the worry of what our government will do to shut them down.
I write this letter only to provide a constructive yet different point of view, and I hope you treat this positively and not at all in a negative manner. I firmly believe that the government that governs least governs best, and now more than ever, Indianapolis should be sending a public message to the rest of the world that it fosters innovation and truly has become an epicenter of tech innovation. You do that by working with companies, not asking them to shut down while the city figures out how to regulate them.
I fear your response will provoke the opposite reaction, and I encourage you to send the right message next that fosters innovation and publicly tells the world that Indianapolis is behind tech innovation, not in its way. I strongly encourage you to think through your next response and show that you are working with new innovative tech companies and giving them time to adapt to your new rules, whatever they may become.