5 Questions for Sam Altman of Loopt

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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 amazingwhen 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.

The biggest part of Loopt is about discovering the world around you, never replacing a social experience – only adding to it.

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 theworld around you, never replacing a social experience – only adding to it.

Tease us with a hint of what’s in your pipeline related to local…

shh, Loopt wants to surprise you

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.

Sam Altman is co-founder and CEO of Loopt, a company that builds mobile applications to help people enjoy the friends, places, and events around you right now. Sam sees mobile location as helping to make serendipity happen, completely transforming how people can and will communicate on their mobile devices. Since founding the company in 2005 while studying at Stanford University, Sam has consistently been recognized for his entrepreneurship. He was featured in Inc. Magazine’s Top 30 Entrepreneurs Under 30, BusinessWeek’s Tech’s Best Entrepreneurs, and Paul Graham’s 5 most interesting startup founders of the last 30 years.
As an early innovator in mobile location services, Sam joined Apple CEO Steve Jobs on stage at WWDC 2008, presenting Loopt as one of the first applications in the iPhone App Store. Sam has been a valuable source for many media outlets including Charlie Rose, CNN, The Economist, New York Times, Wall Street Journal and numerous others (including, now, Locl.ly).
Connect with Sam Altman/Loopt: @sama, @loopt, facebook.com/loopt

This post originally appeared on Locl.ly.