Mobile location-sharing provider Glympse announced yesterday that it was being integrated into the “Verizon Messages” application. Verizon users will be able to share real-time location with others from within the text-messaging app.
This can happen on a one-to-one, one-to-many or group/family basis. Glympses also expire so there isn’t any inadvertent or ongoing tracking. Below are a couple of screens showing the Verizon integration provided by Glympse.
The functionality is obviously very useful. Indeed, while Glympse is the originator of this type of simple mobile-location sharing, similar capabilities were recently integrated into Waze (now part of Google) and the Scout navigation app (Telenav). Glympse has some IP around its technology, although it’s not clear how broad that is.
The Verizon partnership also represents the latest in a series of enterprise deals for the startup. Additional Glympse partner integrations include Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Ford, Navigon, Garmin and a couple of others. Given all these relationships Glympse no longer calls itself an “app” but rather a “platform.” Along those lines, the company has an SDK that enables any third party to potentially include real time location sharing in their app or user experience.
I spoke to Glympse CEO and co-founder Bryan Trussel two days ago. He and I briefly discussed new Verizon integration; however we also had a broader conversation about Glympse and the company’s experience since being founded in 2008. It has maintained its relatively narrow focus and continued to plug away at its original vision — tortoise style.
I’m really struck by how Glympse has maintained its original focus on simple location sharing. There have been a few features added at the margins but basically this is the same app/tool that launched five years ago. The temptation would have been to pivot or build Glympse into something broader that offered local search or deals or check-ins.
Trussel told me that the original prototype app and vision was much broader and more “cluttered.” Before launch he and his co-founders decided to radically “edit” Glympse and offer a very simple proposition to users: real-time location sharing to anyone with a browser. The discipline involved in maintaining that focus and not deviating is impressive.
Trussel discussed how at various points there has been pressure to broaden Glympse and add features as various trends have risen and fallen in the market. Check-in badges and “gamification” are two examples we discussed. Indeed, Glympse is the kind of startup that tends to get critiqued by VCs as a “feature not a business.”
Trussel said that one of the great challenges has been to maintain focus and not get distracted by the “shiny new object.” There’s also the challenge of knowing how long to persevere with an approach and when to let go if something isn’t working.
In this case saying “no” and pursuing the original vision seems to have paid off.