Jamis McNiven, of Bucks Restaurant fame, enters Web 2.0 travel fray with "LandFrog"
Bucks, as you may know, is where all the Silicon Valley venture capitalists hang out and discuss their deals over breakfast and lunch. It is on Woodside road, just one exit north on the 280 form Sand Hill Road, home of VC hq.
Jamis has always been a bit of a riot; the outrageous contraptions that hang down from his restaurant ceiling testify to his playful character.
But he has become restless. First, he went off after the Internet bubble burst and wrote a book. Subsequently, he's up to all kinds of things, most recently developing a seafood chain in San Francisco.
But it is 2006, and he can't take it anymore. "I've been at Bucks so long, and see people scratching at napkins, sketching out the next new thing," he told us this morning. "I said 'I think I‰¥úll stick my toe into that too.'"
His company is called LandFrog. He wants to work with the big search engines to make travel a lot more interesting. He said he will have more details to share in about a month. The idea stems from conversations with people who said they didn't like sites out there like Travelocity and Orbitz. "It's crazy that they don't develop any loyalty," he says. Of course, there's a whole range of other start-ups out there that are livening up the industry, including SideStep, and Silicon Valley social networking site, Real Travel. But Jamis says he wants to make all aspects of travel more compelling, and he hasn't seen a convincing answer out there.
Jamis is quiet on the details, in part because he's still mulling over his exact plan. "It‰¥ús a social-network community," is all he says. He notes that one "group" wanted to buy his idea, but that he rejected the offer. Still, he says the idea is still "nebulous" and that his team has thrown out a lot of its early ideas. "We've done a 180 degree turn, and we're still going to do more turning."
He's serious. He'll have a Web site up in the spring, he says. And he's teamed up with Shawn Cunningham, formerly at Realm. Apparently, Cunningham and his wife, Valerie, who works at AlwaysOn, brought an ape to the last AlwaysOn conference. So sounds like Shawn has the dose of humor to go the way. And they've got an engineering team too, But Jamis didn't say how large.
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