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The first thing you notice when you walk into HootSuite’s non-descript offices in Vancouver, BC’s Railtown district are the bikes.
The first thing you notice when you walk into HootSuite’s non-descript offices in Vancouver, BC’s Railtown district are the bikes. HootSuite’s lobby is filled with bikes. And as you walk through HootSuite’s office, this pattern continues. Bikes line the corridors, adorn offices and lean against desks. If first impressions are anything to go by, this business has bikes on the brain.
Founded in 2008, HootSuite is now in the thick of the social media explosion epitomized by Facebook’s initial public offering earlier this year. HootSuite’s web-based dashboard allows organizations to manage and schedule their Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ social media tools in one secure place. 79 of the world’s Fortune 100 companies use HootSuite including The New York Times, Pepsi, McDonald’s, the Prime Minister’s Office and the White House. Currently, HootSuite is nearing 250 employees and a valuation of $500 million.
You’d think that such a rapidly growing tech company wouldn’t have time to cultivate a corporate bicycling culture, but HootSuite finds plenty of time to ride. Founder and CEO Ryan Holmes is an enthusiastic cyclist and a member of HootSuite’s corporate road biking team. “Cycling to work is encouraged here, and it shows,” Holmes explained. “Our foyer and hallways are packed with bikes every weekday. It’s a mixed bag of vintage cruisers, commuter hybrids, roadies and even a few electrics.”
Thursday evening group rides are a regular part of HootSuite’s corporate culture, with cyclists of every stripe encouraged to join in self-paced rides around Stanley Park out to the University of British Columbia and up Cypress Mountain. This year, HootSuite’s corporate road biking team competed in a number of high profile races including Vancouver’s Gastown Grand Prix and the UBC Grand Prix. Their weekly employee newsletter HootRoad creates a sense of community for their riders.
With rapid growth comes expansion and a much needed office upgrade in early 2013 to Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood will help HootSuite accommodate their new employees. The new facility will place a high priority on bike storage and amenities for cycling commuters. “We take a lot of pride in how many of our Owls choose to bike to work,” Holmes notes. “People are starting to take notice, too. We have had a number of different vendors offer our staff generous discounts and partnership offers.”
As for much of the social media generation that HootSuite embodies, bicycling is less of a weekend hobby and more of a way of life. Holmes believes that there are a couple of reasons for this shift. “Sustainability is a big part of it, but I also like the way riding a bike makes you feel,” Holmes said. “I’m a firm believer that the body fuels the mind, so I choose to fuel my mind with long miles on my bike. You can find peace on a bike.”
When not pedaling East Vancouver on his path racer, Stephen Irving is a social media and communications strategist passionate about sustainable transportation, Canadian politics and post-punk. @stephenirving
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