Message for you, sir

You are on your way home from work, and you realize that you left your jacket/wallet/sunglasses on your desk. Or, at least you think you left them on your desk. You might try calling a few of your work friends to see if they are still at the office. You might write an email to your entire team to see if anyone is around. Neither strategy is likely to successfully get the information you need: is your stuff actually still on your desk. The first strategy wastes your time and potentially the time of everyone you call, because it’s completely possible that none of them are still at the office. The second strategy either wastes your entire team’s time, or more likely is completely ignored.

What the world needs is another messaging app! Okay, probably not. But I do think there is potential for situations like the one outlined above, and I think the solution comes in sending messages to places instead of people. If I were to build this product, I would call it Arrow. When you send a message on an Arrow (or send an Arrow?), you don’t care exactly who receives it, you just care about where they are when they receive it.

Social use cases:

Is there a long line at [Shake Shack](
Is it raining at the park?
Can someone check if my garage is closed?

Commuting use cases:

Is the southbound train delayed?

Public safety use cases:

There is a gas leak in your area. Please evacuate immediately.

I have been thinking about this idea for a long time. Sometimes I am really excited about it, and I feel like it’s a great idea that should be pursued, but sometimes I feel like it would be just another messaging app in a sea of messaging apps. There are some pretty significant risks for the user (e.g. how do you prevent spam?) and some pretty significant risks for the potential business (how do you make money? how do you encourage user engagement?). I did an experiment to try to see how often I would use the app if it existed, and the results weren’t terribly encouraging. The experiment was basically how often do I think “This would be so much better if I could send an Arrow.” A more difficult experiment is how often I would respond to Arrow messages if I got them.

I still think this is an interesting idea, and I think there are solutions to most of the problems that I’ve brought up. I’m just not certain that it solves a painful enough problem that it would be worth building.