Why We Need “Time” for the $10T Service Economy (Vol.1)
by Zi Wang
How do you determine the value of your time? That’s where we started when we began conceiving Timeless.
We began by simply thinking a lot about calendars. Specifically, figuring out the meaning of a calendar, and the value of physically marking a future event on a chart that is important enough to remember. Calendars tell the world of events that shape our lives, providing us with personal meaning.
Just as a map paints a picture of where we have been, a calendar tells a story on how we spend our time, who we interact with, and what we want to be doing. Like a map 20 years ago, however, a calendar is purely informational, guiding us through the complexity of life without giving us better ways of accomplishing the same goals. By marking in our calendar that we have to be at the airport in 3 hours, do we really want to be reminded every 30 minutes that if we don’t leave we will miss our flight?
What if the calendar could contextually understand that we have to physically be at the airport, and to physically be at the airport we need a ride? Why can’t a calendar understand that need, and help provide solutions rather than just regurgitating our problems?
This has been our singular focus for the past several months, as we look to unlock the Calendar as a Platform. Can we create a tool that not only organizes your life but actively finds services that help one have the optimal schedule?
We have different variations of calendars in our lives; the standard Gantt chart calendar for work, the to-do list for organizing our personal lives, or the chore list to keep our home in order. All these hope to bring order into our lives and give credence to the complexity of the decisions we have to make in short periods of time. As we prefaced, while all of these are great tools, they fail to do one thing — the same thing that maps failed to do before platforms like Uber and GrubHub came along (Garrett Camp).
Instead of just trying to show how to get something from point A to point B, what if we did it for you? Instead of organizing which order you should complete tasks, what if a calendar created a marketplace to outsource the work for you?
Unfortunately, no such platform currently exists. It’s why most people find little value in using a calendar outside as a tool to remember future events. Calendars are static in the information they show and offer no connection to the outside world. If we schedule a task reminding us to clean our home, but we decide it would be easier to hire someone, we have to search for outside platforms and vendors, defeating the purpose marking it in the calendar to begin with. Many have argued this is the reason that product searches on Google have been steadily decreasing, while Amazon has had great success (Mitch Joel). People no longer want to just have a storage of information, but the full spectrum of intent, order fulfillment, and payment.
Creating such a marketplace on a calendar is no longer impossible. As we have shown (Timeless Technical Paper), there are optimizations with calculating the intensity and time-period of tasks being completed, as well as how to value one’s time to create a marketplace for it. While products and certain services such as driving have reached the late stage in reach and commoditization, there are still vast areas of human utility that remain untouched and will for some time. We agree with Andrew Chen, that service marketplace is the next frontier, which makes a calendar the ultimate platform to actuate the exchange of services.
Timeless seeks to address the holy trinity of product desire — price, selection, and availability coined by John Rossman— by creating a service matching platform, much like Amazon has created a product matching platform. We are not focused on comparison shopping, nor showing countless ads for services until you give in and buy one. Each is predictively matched based on your needs on time, price, and urgency of fulfillment, with the sole intention of limiting your decision headache to a simple binary choice (Nir Eyal).
Not everything we enter into a calendar has a task to be outsourced, just as we do not need to get a delivery sent to every location we search on a map. This is where the fundamentals of comparative advantage become the cornerstone of our market.
In terms of your personal time, does it cost more to hire someone to complete a task, or to do it yourself?
In this context, there are two main tranches of comparative advantage services people search for, outsourcing (tranche one) and do-it-yourself (tranche two), with tranche two increasingly more subjective and non-binary.
We thus define ”outsourcing” in this context, to be any service where you could theoretically do it yourself, but you either do not have the legal qualifications or find the task worth your time. This can range from flying a plane, going to the doctor, or performing home services. DIY is an area where the task itself cannot be outsourced, but you need to expedite the process to complete it. Common DIY services are QA forums, Ask Me Anythings, or schooling systems, where the task itself is learning a new library for a programming language, or learning to play the cello.
We have chosen to focus on tranche one (outsourcing), as we believe the objectivity of service completion will better suit a first generation calendar platform that will have limited information. Outsourcing solutions is a large market, and we aim to tackle it by targeting the tech workers and traveling urbanites (folks like Christopher Fong, Bill Tai, Mark Bergen … ).
There are many on-demand services we have gotten used to being at the forefront of innovation: food delivery, cleaning services, and transportation methods, that all help us live easier lives. However, these services all exist on separate platforms and require us to input our needs manually.
This is the problem we are trying to tackle. Timeless will be a seamless integration of all the disjointed platforms, where a calendar entry will predictively match a service with the particular need. Having the calendar as the all-encompassing platform for our marketplace also allows us to create unique business models, avoiding the pitfalls of ad-based and transaction fee revenue models.
There are many on-demand services we have gotten used to being at the forefront of innovation: food delivery, cleaning services, and transportation methods, that all help us live easier lives. A pain point, however, is that each is a separate platform, and reactionary in how it functions (i.e., you have to manually request something for it to occur).
Uber, GrubHub, Instagram, and Mailchimp all took existing products and turned them into lucrative marketplaces to directly solve a need. For us, we start with the essential utility of the calendar, a well-understood time management tool to make our lives easier. Creating the Calendar as a Platform is how we aim to enhance/improve the tool and make calendars great again 😜
If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupery
While many promises on the future of blockchain are still being developed, we have set out to change the world — a challenge that is not possible to do alone. Our passion is matching people’s time with helpful services, and we need everyone to help us on the long journey ahead. We will be spending the next several months diving into our platform, economy, marketplace, and design as we look to share with the world our vision for achieving this goal. Look for a 3 part series covering the inner workings of Timeless.
For general and investment inquiries, connect with me — firstname.lastname@example.org