Wednesday, February 04, 2004

The problem with the messenger business is that it's a dinosaur. I'd be really surprised if it's still around in 10 years. It's not the greatly feared but ultimately vastly overestimated arrival of the fax machine. It's electronic file transfers and broadband that will do the industry in. Jetset specializes in serving the advertising industry and all its affiliated parts, print production, photography, video editing, etc. This is good business in SF because there's alot of it and they're willing to pay a premium price for a premium service mostly because they pass the cost on to their client. As it stands now prepress and graphics houses use our service to deliver proofs to their clients because a) we're talking huge files sizes which, even with broadband, take to long to transfer b) monitor resolution and file types prevent people from being able to see exactly what colors they will be getting when they go to print that very important Nike ad in Rolling Stone Magazine. This is good for us because it means we take proofs from place to place so everyone can see their pretty pictures before they go to print. Both these technical issues will surely be resolved in the next decade if not sooner, bike messengers will become extinct and the only thing left will be moving things out of town with small pick ups and moving large loads within the city limits.

There's so much romance in being a bike messenger. I was absolutely passionate about it at one time, and still am to a certain degree, and it's still interesting to see new faces get involved with the community. It's become a very ambitiously political group as well. There's a small but vocal segment of the messenger community that's working very hard to become union. They've had some success and seem to fighting a noble fight. As a business owner I understand both sides of the issue and why many firms are so reluctant to embrace the union position. I try to treat my employees as fairly as my budget will allow. We provide health and dental insurance (50-50 split), the 4 day work week, and a fair commission on each delivery. I'd make a ton of money if I tried to make my guys IC's. But I don't want to do that, it wouldn't be fair. I've worked during my long messenger career at IC shops and it sucks. When my partners and I started Jetset we were essentially creating the messenger company that we would like to ride for. Of course I barely ride anymore but sit in the office and dispatch, do managerial tasks, and try to make sure everything works on a day to day basis. I hate the service industry. It burns your soul from the inside.
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