Endowments are investing in the companies, while campus officials worry about safety.
Colleges are nervous about the boom in shared electric scooters, which riders can rent with an app and then leave at their destination for the next rider. Administrators see students zipping down campus streets and sidewalks as a safety hazard. They worry about unused scooters littering the quad and people tripping over them.
Shortly after scooters owned by Santa Monica, Calif.-based Bird Rides Inc. began showing up at Michigan State University, senior officials shared the news at a staff meeting that dozens had been impounded by campus police after being strewn around the school’s 5,200 acres. Phil Zecher, chief investment officer of Michigan State’s almost $3 billion endowment, piped up with some surprising news: The endowment invests in Bird as part of a venture capital fund, Upfront Ventures Fund VI. “As big entities and also as big investors, we sometimes invest in the same companies that are disrupting us,” Zecher says.
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January 28, 2019