We get a lot of pitches here at The Next Web. And some of them are off the charts B2Boring. But every once in a while, a little gem pops up that sends ripples of laughter and wonder through our back channel. And then we share them… Here goes: President and CEO Mike Podhorzer wants to spread his new web site to the world. It’s called Pal Locale and he describes it as “a community of pals available for rent by the hour.”
Why might one want to rent a pal? Maybe you are on a business trip by yourself and would rather not eat dinner alone. You could search for a pal on the site to eat dinner with you and then compensate him at his hourly rate. Another use is for people who have just moved to a new town and don’t know anyone. The person could search Pal Locale for someone local to show them around, recommend restaurants, bars/nightclubs, etc. Aside from renting a pal, members could choose to just be a pal available for rent and could still decide to rent a pal at any point after joining the site.
It’s really no different than what goes down on Craigslist, or the increasingly successful San Francisco based TaskRabbit. And the idea of having a local tour guide if you’re brand new to a city is a great idea. In fact, we’re seeing them emerge more and more, like the Polish startup MyGuidie, which sold equity in its company on an auction site. It’s kind of less creepy than Couchsurfing, because you just meet the person in the street…But really, the issue here is about copywriting. The fact that Podhorzer is trying to make a buck off of people renting other people is weird, and it just doesn’t feel quite right. And he’s not the only one doing it either. We’ve also dug up: Rent a Friend. And then of course, there’s straight up Wingwomen, which is one zipper away from prostitution.
Right now, the site is simply a splash page up that allows a user to submit his or her email address to be notified when the site launches. Once the user confirms their email address, they will receive a unique link to share with friends. Pal Locale is giving away a free 3 month subscription to the person who gets the most referrals.
Check out a couple of the “Available for Rent” options here:
I’m going to put this out there and suggest a Chatroulette-Pal Locale location based iPhone app. Imagine the possibilities.