Twist – a new app for the punctuality-challenged

July 18, 2012

The minds of Silicon Valley have yet to find the cure for tardiness, but they have figured out a way to make being late less rude.

A new app call Twist notifies friends and colleagues when you’re running late, calculating the estimated time of arrival to your destination on-the-fly and zipping off text messages to the people waiting for you.

The free app, available on Wednesday for iOS devices, can be used for trips by car, bike, foot and public transportation in most major U.S. cities. In development for the past year, the app’s algorithms crunch through various data streams, such as the average speed you travel and real-time traffic patterns, to calculate ETAs that co-founder Mike Belshe says are 98 percent accurate.

Belshe, a former Google employee who was a founding member of the Chrome group, teamed-up to create Twist with Bill Lee, a serial entrepreneur and angel investor who has backed Tesla and Posterous.

“A lot of guys are just focused on ‘where,’” said Lee, referring to the spate of location apps that have flooded the App Store in recent years. “We’re the first to focus on ‘when.’”

The San Francisco-based company has $6 million in funding from backers including Bridgescale Partners, Jeff Skoll, the first president of eBay, Eric Hahn, the former chief technology officer of Netscape, as well as Lee and Belshe.

Besides making life easier for the serially late, Twist is touting its safety aspect:  no need to risk an accident while driving so that you can text your friends to let them know you’re going to be late. The company even commissioned a survey by Harris Interactive that found that 24 percent of Americans admit to having sent a text or email while driving to notify someone that they were on their way.

The app can integrate with the iPhone’s calendar and provide automated reminders, based on current traffic conditions, that it’s time to hit the road if you want to make it to your appointment on time.

Lee, who is CEO of Twist, said he hopes to grow the team and to add new features, such as ETAs for airplane travel, as well as potentially an Android version.


Update: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of Twist investor Jeff Skoll.

One comment

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This is a great concept but twist is hardly the first to focus on “when”. I have been using the enRoute app! -share-my-eta-location/id450374755?mt=8 for a few months now and it works great and it has a lot of very nice features like calendar integration for destinations etc.

Posted by Chandra_S | Report as abusive