Here’s a story about a man, a tweet, and a small pledge that ballooned to $7000 in minutes. It’s also about honor on Twitter, which is something we see too rarely these days.
It all started with “Carmageddon”. For 50 hours, starting on July 15th, the 405 freeway was closed – effectively cutting off one of LA’s most central arteries. Leading up to this much-chattered-about event, Jet Blue launched a marketing campaign offering $4 commuter flights to anyone who wanted to be ferried over the 405 from Burbank to Long Beach.
In response to this campaign, Tom Vanderbilt from Slate Magazine speculated that cyclists could make the trip in a shorter period of time. And thus the snowball of events leading to a small company’s $7000 pledge began.
A group of bikers took up Vanderbilt’s idea, and publicly declared that they would race Jet Blue’s commuter flight #405.
Anthony Converse, the GM for Santa Monica Airlines Skateboards, saw the fight vs. bike race (which trending on Twitter), and decided that this would be a great time not only to show his support for alternative transportation, but also for Santa Monica Airlines to make its Twitter debut.
So, in a grandiose fashion, Converse set up the Santa Monica Airlines Twitter account (@3533M3AIRLIN35) and tweeted that he would give $100 for every minute that the bikes beat the airplane.
This was a nice gesture, and Converse was expecting to donate maybe $500 in the end.
But unluckily for him, he didn’t read the full rules of engagement for the flight vs. bike race – the bikes got to leave a full 90 minutes before the plane.
And especially unluckily for Converse, he wasn’t even online when the race went down. His friend had to call him on his cellphone to pass along updates, as Yo! Venice! describes:
“Over the next two hours, “flight vs. bike” trended on Twitter as Jetblue, The Wolfpack Hustle, flight passengers and fans from around the world sent out messages on the progress of the race. Converse received updates every ten minutes from his friend via phone calls, the last being his friend inquiring “have you ever been to South America? The bikes beat the plane by 70 minutes!””
70 minutes meant $7000 from Converse and Santa Monica Airlines. And being a small company, this was just too big of a hit for the company to take alone.
And here’s where the story gets good.
Rather than back out of the pledge, saying that he didn’t fully understand the rules or that he jumped on too early, Converse sold his biodiesel car to fund the donation. His reasoning?
“I looked at my car and said ‘just sell THAT’. This whole event was about alternative transportation. My company has a van I use, so my car was redundant.”
So, Converse met with the LA County Bicycle Coalition with a check for $7000 last week. He followed through with his Twitter pledge, and in the process raised more awareness for alternative transportation than he set originally out to do.
I just hope he also learned to take a breath before he tweets next time!
Via Yo! Venice!
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