After several years spent building location-based mobile apps and products for his own company, as well as Facebook, he’s back with another venture that’s focused on improving the way we explore our everyday world.
As you probably recall, Gowalla was one of the early location-based social check-in apps, aimed at helping users to pinpoint where they were and what they were doing, so that friends may find them.
Later, using the data that users had volunteered, the company pivoted slightly to be about creating guides and tools for discovering new things in the world around you. But soon after the launch of Gowalla 4.0, the team was acqui-hired by Facebook.
Last summer, after working on Facebook Pages, Location, and Events products, Williams left the company. And shortly after that he founded a new venture that they called The Last Guide Company along with former Dropbox and Facebook designer (and Gowalla alum) Adam Michela.
The idea was to use all the things that your mobile phone knows about you to make it fun to go out and explore the world. Since being launched, the brand name has been shortened to Last, and Williams and Michela recruited front-end Developer Tyler Stalder, illustrator and designer Brian Brasher, and photographer Daniel Agee to help them out along the way.
While Williams is staying mum on what the initial product created by the team will be, he did tell us that, like Gowalla and the Facebook products that he worked on, Last would be focused on harnessing the power of mobile phones and physical location to improve the way that users interacted with the world around them.
“How do we take your phone and what we understand about you and where you are in the world to make it easier for you to go out… and explore?” Williams said.
That functionality will be at the heart of whatever Last comes to market with later this year. And, whatever it is, will come as a bit of a departure from what Gowalla was more than five years ago.
In part, that’s because the world has changed. As Williams told us, the idea of using your mobile phone to pinpoint your location is not quite as novel today as it once was.
“When we first built Gowalla, it was on the first smartphone the masses had access to. Location was novel, and… coming out of the gate, there were a lot of people who hadn’t seen anything like it before,” Williams said. “Now everything uses location, even the things you don’t think of as being location-based.”
Our phones now also know a lot more about us these days, including our likes, dislikes, relationship status, where we’ve been to, and where we’re going. With all that data, Last could theoretically provide much better local discovery and recommendations than what’s currently available.
To push its vision forward, the Last team raised $2.1 million in seed capital led by Freestyle Capital. Along with its investment came money from firms that had previously put money into Gowalla, including Greylock Partners and Founders Fund.
Other investors in the round include Google Ventures, Sherpa Ventures, Designer Fund, BoxGroup, Launch Fund, SV Angel, Fuel Capital, Slow Ventures, Ruchi Sanghvi, Pete Cashmore, Tom Conrad, Todd Jackson, Tom Watson, and Semil Shah.