Hey, remember ReservationHop? You know, the much-criticized service that promised to sell restaurant reservations to users? Well, founder Brian Mayer is officially abandoning the idea.
The service seemed to attract the hatred of pretty much every tech journalist on Twitter (or at least the ones I follow) back in July — in fact, it spurred our own Josh Constine to write a post asking startups to “Stop The JerkTech.”
It’s probably not worth going into all the pros and cons of the idea at this point — let’s just say that Mayer told me he was trying to address “San Francisco’s love of both food and instant gratification, which I share,” while others found it “sleazy” and compared it to ticket scalping.
Anyway, shortly after the brouhaha, Mayer made what he called a “soft pivot” — he still planned to sell reservations, but now in partnership with restaurants. That, in turn, has been replaced by a “hard pivot” away from reservations entirely.
The new product is called OK Shift, and it’s a text message-based service that helps hourly workers find replacements and secure manager approval when they can’t make their shift. You can learn more about the service here — maybe at some point we’ll take a closer look.
In the meantime, here’s how Mayer explained his decision:
Why did we decide to ultimately pivot away from ReservationHop? It became clear that the marketplace amongst restaurants wasn’t as big as we had hoped, for a couple reasons. First, after personally speaking to many of the best restaurants in San Francisco, as well as elsewhere, we could see that the value add we were bringing to the table wasn’t compelling enough to inspire a change in behavior. There was a real hesitance on the part of restaurants to mark up their prices in the form of paid reservations, for fear that they would lose control over dictating the value of their product. And there were, of course, branding concerns for many restaurants beyond simply maximizing revenue.