Philip Rosedale, the former RealNetworks employee who is best known for creating the virtual world Second Life, is launching a new startup called Coffee & Power which allows people to interact in the real and digital worlds in order to get small tasks done.
That includes everything from arranging airport runs to shopping at Trader Joe’s to reading Tarot cards.
Rosedale reintroduced the idea today in San Francisco, and he’s already pulled in heavy hitters such as Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman and Lotus Development founder Mitch Kapor as investors. Together, they are sinking $1 million into the venture.
“Coffee & Power is an online marketplace where people can buy and sell small jobs and enables a new breed of mobile workers to connect in a way that’s fast, low-friction, and fun,” the company writes in a blog post. “C&P’s innovative marketplace includes its own virtual currency and payment system, live communications and public chat, a game-like rating and review system, and a real-world facility where users can meet and work together.”
To some degree, Coffee & Power is reminiscent of Zaarly, the online and mobile marketplace that also allows individuals to request services or sell goods in a set geographic area. Zaarly, with some operations in Seattle, just landed $14 million and named former eBay CEO Meg Whitman to the board.
There’s also an element of Seattle-based TeachStreet at play here, since users of Coffee & Power can peruse a list of people willing to teach languages, cooking and other skills.
Unlike Zaarly, Coffee & Power has established its own coffee shop on San Francisco’s Market Street where individuals who participate in the community can connect to exchange goods and drink coffee. You can check in on the live action in the coffee shop — known as the Workclub — through a Webcam on the Coffee & Power Web site. (There wasn’t much going on when I checked it out this morning, though).
According to All Things D, Coffee & Power will operate its marketplace on virtual currency, similar to the concept that Rosedale helped pioneer at Second Life.
In addition to Zaarly, Coffee & Power faces competition from TaskRabbit and RentAStudent.
It plans to open other cafes if the concept catches on.
With Rosedale’s connections to Seattle, maybe we’ll get to see Coffee & Power on the streets here one day. After all, the name is kind of fitting for our rain-soaked streets, don’t you think?