Uber Stole my Startup Idea!

OK, I’ll stop pretending now. They didn’t steal anything. But they did just launch what sounds almost exactly like an idea I spent many months developing back in 2008 before abandoning it when I realised I couldn’t possibly make it work.

Uber have just launched UberCOMMUTE.

My idea was called 42ity. Pronounced “For-too-ity”, it was a perfect combination of the fortuitous occurrence of finding someone driving in the same direction as you, with a Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy reference thrown in for good measure for a product which could exactly be described as an “electronic hitch hiking thumb.”

I went so far as registering a domain (42ity.net – the guy who owns 42ity.com wasn’t interested in selling it), and setting up a blog on it, but when I realised that I couldn’t possibly afford the marketing campaign that it would take to achieve the market saturation required to make the app actually work, I put the whole project into my ex-project vault.

How many people need to be actively running the app whenever they drive before you are actually lucky enough to have one driving past your location who is also going to/past your destination? A lot. The answer is definitely a lot. And until that market saturation is achieved, the app is almost utterly useless, and people would quickly uninstall it, and thus you’d never get there.

That was my conclusion anyway, and I stand by it.

Uber, on the other hand, already have global recognition and massive uptake of their main app. They actually have a chance – so good on them! I still think it will be very very difficult to get the right level of saturation to be of any significant use, but if they ever expand the app to Sydney, I will install and use it.

Oh, though they seem to be focusing on long distance driving. I was open to all drivers at all times. But they basically cover most of that with Uber already, so this is a complimentary feature to their existing platform.

Of course the ideas aren’t identical. They never are. But this is the closest I have seen to my idea – despite many numerous ride sharing apps which have been launched over the years. None ever seemed to focus on the real time hitch-hiking-style which I thought would be idea.

Here is one blog post from 2008 where I mention 42ity. And that seems to be just about the only evidence I have of 42ity left online these days.

I will try to remember to plug in my hard drive later today and find some of my mock-up images for 42ity and add them to this post.

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TDMSKP and E-Thumb idea (42ity.net)

I did Better Offer canyon yesterday. I should go through the photos and upload them to TDMSKP, and write a guide article for the canyon in the wiki sometime today while it is all still fresh in my head. Klaus is actively developing the new version of TDMSKP at the moment – I hope to get a beta version of the new site live by November, but the final version of the site probably won’t be ready for a few months more. It is looking very sexy so far though…

I am still really excited by the idea of this website. I think there is a reasonable chance that it will be successful. Even if it isn’t world domination successful, it will be a reasonably well received site with decent traffic almost guaranteed.

Meanwhile, after more than a month of consideration, I finally found a name for my E-thumb idea that I really like – 42ity (four-two-ity). The .com domain was taken though, and I emailed the owner, but he wasn’t interested in selling. After some discussion with Brian last night though, I am convinced that the .net is acceptable in this instance. 42ity.net rolls off the tongue pretty well, and 42ity is really just a network of people anyway – so .net is appropriate.

I love this name so much now. Of course, having not explained in this blog what my ‘E-Thumb idea’ is means that anyone reading this has no idea what I am talking about, but chances are no one will read this anyway. So let me explain why 42ity.net is the perfect name regardless.
1. 42ity.net implies fortuity, and the idea of having a complete stranger driving past your locations, heading past your destination, and offering you a (safe) lift, is a ‘fortuitous’ event.
2. 42ity.net includes the number 42, an obvious reference to “Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy”, a book which not only has a lot in it about hitch hiking, but also has it’s own e-thumb in it – Ford Prefect’s ‘Sub-etha sensomatic’.
3. 42ity.net is easily branded, easily converted to a logo (thanks for that insight klaus), and easily remembered. (unlike my second option – 4tuitous.com)

It is perfect. Now that I have a domain, I guess I should host it, and have a good long talk with Andrew and Wanna about what to do next (they are the two software engineers who have agreed to do the software development on the project).

I need to design layout and process for how I see the website working from user-interface level.

I also need to keep doing that with Klaus and TDMSKP.

I need to keep driving SAG and SBB to ensure I continue to have any money at all to be able to drive these two projects.

Session has almost ended at Uni now. This is good because I really need to time – but it is also bad because it means my main ‘living’ income is about to stop again. I don’t feel poor yet, but give it 3 months, and we’ll see.

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