I love my Chrome bag

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I love my Chrome bag. It’s an over-the-shoulder bike messenger bag & I’ve used it as my primary travel bag for the last year and a half[1]. It holds even more than my old roller bag, fits absolutely everywhere[2], and doesn’t make noise going over tile floors.

Chrome started as a messenger bag company in 1995 in Boulder, CO. It now has its headquartered in San Francisco and a manufacturing plant north of the city in Chico, CA. Despite its tenure, Chrome is still a pretty local brand – you’ll see non-bikers in San Francisco carrying Chrome bags, but I only saw about one/month when I lived in Boston.

My bag is one of their older models, from 2000 or 1999. It’s a Kozmo bag. I have fond memories of the company – they delivered movies & ice cream to my dorm room for a few years while I was in college, and we ended up with a small collection of video tapes that we’d been to lazy to return when they went out of business. Kozmo is also a great symbol of everything that went wrong in the dot-com bubble of 1999. They offered free delivery of corner store items in under an hour, and aggressively expanded to cities where the bike messenger concept just wasn’t practical (like L.A., Atlanta, Dallas). By the time they ceased operations, they were in more than 15 cities in the US & Europe, had instituted delivery charges, and were actually profitable in NYC, Boston, and San Francisco. But, by that point, they’d burned through more than $100M in funding and weren’t ever going to provide a reasonable return on that investment, so the company was shuttered.

Almost ten years later, I carry a Kozmo.com bag around both as a reminder of what incredible reach a company can achieve in a few years, and as a reminder that profit needs to be in the plan eventually. I've traveled with it enough that it made it into this self portrait a few years ago:

I’m glad that companies are still trying to get parts of the Kozmo promise to work, and I’m happy that my Chrome bag (and Chrome the company) are still in great shape and thriving in San Francisco.

[1] My roller bag, having served me for 7 years of consulting, gave up the ghost on my very last BCG flight – its retractable handle jammed while fully extended. It was preceded by my old business laptop and several Blackberries and is survived by a leather briefcase.
[2] It really does fit everywhere. I’ve gotten it under the seat in front of me and even the micro-overhead bins in Embraer 120s and CRJ 200s.


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