In the final event of the opening day of FreightWaves LIVE, it appeared the fix was in to declare FreightWaves’ home city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, the best freight tech city in the country.
But you cannot discount Chicago, where the saying “Vote early and vote often” is attributed to Mayor Richard J. Daley, gangster Al Capone and Mayor William Hale Thompson.
FreightWaves founder and CEO Craig Fuller took one podium in the ballroom where fireside chats and live tech demos had crossed the stage in succession throughout the day. Matt Silver, founder of Chicago-based cross-border freight broker Forager Logistics, took the other.
A strong hint of shenanigans to come: FreightWaves President and cheerleader George Abernathy refereed the debate.
Trading a mixture of good-natured insults and factoids about the advantages of one city over the other as ideal locations for freight tech and logistics businesses, Fuller and Silver figuratively slugged it out, each landing a few punches about the other’s city.
Fuller pointed to notoriously bad weather in Chicago and two bad baseball teams.
Silver ragged on Chattanooga for having nowhere that could accommodate an event like FreightWaves LIVE. And on baseball, he retorted: “You wanna talk about the Cubs vs. the [Chattanooga] Lookouts?” The Lookouts are a AA team in the Southern League. The Cubs won the Major League Baseball World Series in 2016.
Abernathy pretty much stayed out of the debate other than threatening to cut Silver off. He didn’t do it.
Finally, Abernathy called for a vote by the audience. With crowds gathering for a reception outside the ballroom, Abernathy declared the loudest response would determine the winner.
Despite an unknown number of full-throated FreightWaves employees in the room … Chicago fans cheered louder — barely.
And Fuller declared Chicago, host to FreightWaves LIVE, “the greatest freight tech city of all.”