Uber hires hashtag inventor to drive IoT
Chris Messina (Image: Chris Messina)

Uber hires hashtag inventor to drive IoT

Taxi app Uber has taken on Chris Messina, who invented the hashtag, as its developer experience lead in a bid to accelerate IoT development. 

Messina announced the news in a Medium blog post on Monday, which is when he started at the Silicon Valley tech giant. He’s the first person to be employed in this position.

In his blog post, he notes that the new role involves him “nurturing, expanding, and championing on behalf of the Uber Developer Platform ecosystem.”

Between 2010 and 2013, he worked at Google to help build its developer platform. He’ll be doing the same thing at Uber and says it’ll “build the foundational platform that will enable people to manipulate and control the world around them”.

He sees a parallel between Uber and Facebook, which already sports thousands of apps built on top of it, and points out to Mark Zuckerberg’s plans to build a simple AI to run his home and help him with his work.

The idea, then, is that Uber builds a framework for developers to work with. Messina believes that Uber existing as a so-called “network facilitator” is where things begin, not end.

In his blog piece, he goes on to explain: “As I see and understand it, Uber exists at the beginning of the inevitable shift from an internet experienced on screens to an internet that is present in and connects the everyday things that are all around us.”

As an example of Uber’s potential as a platform, he references generic delivery service UberRush and food delivery service UberEat. Currently, these come under the umbrella of Uber Everything.

Carl Reader, the author of The Startup Coach, talks to Internet of Business about Uber’s IOT potential: “It’s clear that Uber, and indeed similar businesses that have redefined existing business models, have a huge opportunity to take advantage of the Internet of Things.

“The Apple Watch app is, in my opinion, just the start of things to come. It’s not inconceivable that a driver, based on historic patterns (i.e. length of time at a restaurant) could return without being ordered, based on a geolocation device in the user’s coat – moving the coat from the cloakroom could trigger an on demand driver to pull up outside.

“Synchronisation to diaries can ensure a driver is on time, every time: not waiting for 5 minutes from the click of a smartphone button. Take that a few steps further, and there’s scope for infinite possibilities.”

Bruno Beloff, chief architect at Deliver Change, adds: “Most IoT infrastructure bids are independent of the things they serve. They are data agnostic and device agnostic. What makes Uber special is that it started out in the physical world of cars, people, phones and money.

“That’s a great place to start. Without straying far from that domain, here is a huge opportunity. When we talk about IoT we think about physical things, rather than virtual things. But an internet of virtual things, could happen too. it probably will. That one is still up for grabs.”