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Hard to believe, but the first Bird e-scooters only debuted on the streets (or more accurately sidewalks) of Santa Monica, California a bit over a year ago, in September 2017.

At launch there were only 10 scooters. Now the company is worth more than $1 billion, has scooters in more than 120 cities, has taken on $415 million in funding, and there have been more than 10 million Bird rides. 

Along the way, it's butted heads with governments for its forgiveness-is-better-than-permission approach, which basically means launching Bird scooters in cities where it believes there's no law specifically prohibiting what they want to do. It's been fined more than $500,000 and sued repeatedly. And Bird scooters have reportedly resulted in at least two deaths.

Meanwhile, it's also created an ancillary industry -- people rushing around to gather discarded Bird scooters and charge them at night -- where the dollar amounts aren't nearly as high: between $5 and $20 per scooter, depending on how hard it is to find. 

Love them or hate them, Bird scooters (and the competitors it spawned) are here. For its audacity and ambition, for its ferocious execution skills--for demonstrating, even, that sometimes entrepreneurship requires playing in a gray area rather than wearing a white hat--Bird is Inc.'s Company of the Year.

Here's what else I'm reading today:

Hey look, it's Uber!

A few days ago, news broke that Lyft had beaten Uber to the punch by filing a draft registration statement with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Surprise! It turns out now that Uber did the exact same thing Friday, meaning the race to be the first ridesharing company to go public is now full force.
--Greg Bensinger and Maureen Farrell, The Wall Street Journal

These 14 companies deserve some end-of-year champagne

Bird ruled 2018, but it wasn't alone: Plenty of other companies deserve recognition. Epic Games rode smash hit video game Fortnite Battle Royale to a $15 billion valuation. 23andMe finally won its four-year regulatory battle with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Check out the rest of the 14 businesses celebrating a standout year--and the inside stories behind their success.

Seriously, who comes up with these?

Everyone loves a terrible startup name, and this year delivered some doozies. Do you have any idea what Eclypsium does? How about Pulumi? A poor moniker can turn customers away before they even look at a product, so learn from the mistakes of these unfortunately named companies.

This is how a holiday ends, this is how a holiday ends

Once upon a time, Free Shipping Day was a big deal. A whole day for every major e-commerce store on the internet to deliver--wait for it--free shipping. Its early December timing was perfect for last-minute holiday shopping. But what happens in the age of Amazon when free shipping is the rule, rather than the exception? The official death of a holiday, it seems.

All the reasons why working more than 40 hours a week doesn't make sense

In a nutshell: You simply can't afford it. Whether you're a cog in the corporate machine or you run your own company, consistently working long hours won't pay off the way you think it will.
--Geoffrey James, Inc.