Lonely Planet Chooses Zulu Name For New Mobile Travel Startup

Posted In Apps, Mobile Web - By Ryan On Friday, September 23rd, 2011 With 0 Comments

Australia-based Lonely Planet, the world’s largest publisher of print and web travel guides, has announced that they’ve created a new startup (based in San Francisco) that will create social travel guides for mobile by bringing together the best team available through an unusual collaboration between Lonely Planet and their competitors in the industry.

The management team chose to name the startup Wenzani, from the Zulu word meaning “What are you doing?”. Zulu is one of South Africa’s eleven official languages and, like Kenya’s Swahili language, provides dot com business owners with a great list of alternative names to choose from when trying to register that elusive new .com domain.

Wenzani is set to launch their first app (which will be free to start off with) in the next few months. Matt Goldberg, CEO of Lonely Planet, explains what users can expect from the new product: “With the explosion of mobile and the scale of social, with a GPS in every smartphone, what does a guide look like? We’re going to launch a product that we think will become the travel guide for the social generation. We can tap your social network – your friends, your mindset – and get context from your location, time of day, your preferences and create a guide experience that we think will be unique”.

Recognising that innovation needs to come before restrictive old-school media thinking, Wenzani will be completely indepdendent of the Lonely Planet operation and will integrate content from other travel services and platforms. Goldberg elaborates, “Wenzani will leverage premium content from Lonely Planet and from our competitors. We created an equity structure so that it can compete like a startup – so we can attract talent. We’ve set up a freestanding company and we’re going to use equity to attract a world-class team. We are out to prove (The Innovator’s Dilemma author) Clay Christensen wrong – we can do it and not worry about disrupting ourselves. Innovation requires restless experimentation. It’s something that requires a particular cultural mindset”.

Lonely Planet has already gone a long way to penetrate the mobile space as the third prong of their publication strategy, with over 200 mobile apps of its city guides across four platforms.

About - With at least 20 phones tucked away in drawers around the house and office, Ryan is a buy-to-try mobile consumer and loves playing with new handsets. Right now he's stuck on the iPhone 4.

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