CEO Sam Altman Explains Loopt In Terms Your Mother Will Understand

Sam Altman

This is the third in a series of brief Q&As with leaders in the local space.Describe Loopt as if a friend’s mother asked, “So what is this Loopt?”

Think about the last time you walked into a coffee shop, and saw someone that you hadn’t seen a long time, or you stumble into a gallery that you love. This is one of those great life experiences that are amazing when you have them, but they don’t happen terribly often on their own. With Loopt, you get a sharper view, you can see that a friend is 10 blocks away, get alerts when they are close, see what places your friends like around you. These “intentional accidents” are what make Loopt fascinating to a lot of people.

If you were not involved with Loopt which service would you use to satisfy your needs?

I’ve now been involved with Loopt for a long time, having co-founded it in 2006 (pre-iPhone, if you can imagine). Asking what I’d do without Loopt is almost like asking what I would do if I didn’t have a smartphone, because the feature set has become the norm for me. I use Loopt constantly, and the service even surprises me sometimes by uncovering a new place, or a serendipitous moment in a big city with an old friend.

I suppose if I didn’t have Loopt, I’d have to, I don’t know, pick up the phone and just start calling people, a lot more texting and certainly more Googling.

Why should people use your product over, say, watching hockey?

Why not do both? Loopt isn’t a service that keeps you locked in, staring at your screen. If you were at a San Jose Sharks game, Loopt pushes a “Friend Alert” to say that your friend Steve is within 1 mile, so Steve’s likely at the game too, and you can meet up afterward. Or, if you know that Steve’ s watching the game at some bar, but aren’t sure where, you can Ping Steve (a geo-text asking for his location), and route to where he is to enjoy the game together. The biggest part of Loopt is about discovering the world around you, never replacing a social experience – only adding to it.

What is the future of local + mobile, in 15 words or less?

Relevance and simplicity. Seeing right through the walls of a city, uncovering friends and ultra-relevant places.