Bird Is Changing The Landscape Of Transportation — And The Face Of Engineering
Chances are you’ve seen Bird in your city. You might even have ridden one for fun on a beautiful day, or for a quick and inexpensive ride when you needed to get somewhere in a crunch. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like working at the startup transforming the way people get around, we spoke to Rodney Gainous Jr. and Alona King — software engineers at Bird— to get a deeper look inside.
Landing at Bird
Gainous moved to LA in January and noticed the high number of people riding scooters around town. After a friend finally convinced him to unlock a Bird, he realized how enjoyable the experience was. He further researched the company, reached out to Travis VanderZanden, CEO of Bird, who introduced him to Justin Balthrop, the CTO. Shortly after, Rodney was working on the iOS and Android apps as the youngest and one of the 10 first members of Bird’s engineering team.
Alona King began to see Bird as an affordable, accessible means of transportation that was going to completely change the way a large portion of our society moves after riding to the grocery store and back for $3.30. She immediately set up a visit to Bird’s electrified HQ through Gainous.
“Everyone I talked to was excited, humble and hungry,” King says, “Every engineer I talked to couldn’t stop talking about the incredible problems they solve day in and day out. Problems that no one had ever solved before. I decided right then and there that I wanted to join the team, and three weeks later I was the first woman to join software engineering at Bird.”
Growing at Bird
The ability to create solutions never stops, as Bird continues to innovate how people get around.
“Because of our growth, every day there are new challenges to face,” says Gainous, “What is a priority today may or may not be a priority tomorrow. I spend the majority of my time coding, typically working on new features.”With Bird growing so fast, the company is actively hiring in all areas. As Gainous describes, “Some days, my whole day is interviewing candidates because we have tons of positions to fill.”
Taking Bird international was King’s first responsibility. During King’s second week working, the CTO came to her to ask if she had what it took to take Bird to Paris. She jumped at the opportunity.
“During that time, a normal day for me was spent leading that project, coordinating necessary engineering work between teams and writing all the code necessary to take our app international,” she says, “A month later, thanks to that work, we were able to launch in Paris, and now Bird is operational in countries around the globe. Still, priorities change all the time.”
After taking Bird global, King led the rider team to implement Bird Delivery, a service announced in October that allows riders to have Birds delivered to their homes so they can have all-day access to it. It’s the next step for users who want to reduce their carbon footprint but need to take multiple trips throughout the day. In addition to Bird Delivery, Bird has also released Bird Zero, a new scooter that’s designed to have a longer-lasting battery, improved lighting and more. Continuing to innovate and push the mission forward is important to the team.
On the one-year anniversary of the startup, Bird celebrated by providing 10 million environmentally-friendly rides to riders in more than 100 cities. With a timely idea, a great product and the sense of freedom and accessibility that comes with the service, the team has set themselves up for an impressive growth trajectory, meaning more growth within in business and a cleaner environment.
Diversity at Bird
“As a black engineer, I can look to my left and right and see other black software engineers doing incredible work and that is a blessing to be a part of,” says King.
Even though many tech companies claim that black and brown engineers don’t exist, Bird sees and hires them.
“Bird has the most black engineers that I’ve ever worked with in 5 years,” says Gainous. “Compared to other companies, there is higher priority in improving the diversity of the engineering team.”
Gainous says that Bird is helping foster diversity and inclusion by listening to the concerns of minorities and actively working to address them. In addition to attending and recruiting at AfroTech this year, Bird has prioritized recruiting from HBCUs and participating in the annual Grace Hopper event to encourage women to join the team. In support to those recruitment efforts, the team must participate in mandatory safe & inclusive workspace training for all employees so that individuals can best work together in an understanding and comfortable environment.
Are you interested in joining the flock? Click here to learn more about Bird’s current openings.
This post is sponsored by Bird.