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Startup Interview: Shaun Salzberg, Founder of Transitory

Interview with Shaun Salzberg, Founder/CEO/Developer at Transitory.

Transitory is the easiest way to share your location. With just one click, you can send a private map where your friends can track you for however long you choose. There’s no signup, no accounts, and it’s free.

Tell us about Transitory and how it works.

Transitory is the Snapchat of location sharing. The iPhone app lets you share your whereabouts at a private URL for a set amount of time, which you can then send to as few or as many people as you want. After the time is up, your URL self destructs and can no longer be viewed. Recipients of the private URL don’t need the Transitory app or even a smartphone — as long as they can view a link in a browser they can see where you are for the amount of time you allow. Transitory doesn’t require you to create any accounts, is completely anonymous, and completely free.

What were you doing before starting your company?

I’m a recent graduate of the MIT Media Lab, where I was research assistant in the Changing Places group focusing on home automation and workplace interaction. In the years prior and since, I’ve been all over the New York City tech start-up scene, mainly as a web and mobile developer. I started out at a file-sharing service called, and after was purchased by Facebook in October of 2010, I spent some time at the start-up incubator, QLabs. More recently I was an engineer at a hardware manufacturing consultancy called Dragon Innovation, a full stack developer at a 3D printing startup called Normal, and a Design Technologist at an interactive digital design firm. I’ve also done an extensive amount of work for M, the mysterious founder of The Master Theorem puzzling society.

Where did your vision/inspiration for Transitory come from?

The inspiration for Transitory came after observing my own behavior when trying to share my location with others. While waiting for friends in a park or driving to meet up with coworkers at a client’s office, I would often open Google Maps on my phone, take a screenshot of the blue dot indicating where I was, and text it to my friends so they could find me. I had to do it that way because, despite having other location sharing apps like Apple’s Find My Friends and Facebook’s Nearby Friends, it was too complicated to ask my friends to download the app, create an account, and friend me just to see where I was that one time. Especially with people I wasn’t particularly close with, I also didn’t want to share my location with them forever, but rather just for a few minutes while we were meeting up.

What problem are you solving, and why do we need your product?

With all the concerns these days about online privacy and the desire for the internet to “forget”, there has been a greater and greater need for “ephemeral” applications that provide the benefits of social sharing but also guarantee that your data doesn’t live forever. Snapchat did this for messaging, but there was no great solution for location sharing. Transitory is trying to fill that void with an incredibly simple app that solves this one use case really well.

What do you do for fun when not working on your company?

I often get made fun of by my friends for doing too many things and not being able to sit still. When not working, over the past few years I could be found fencing, rock climbing, scuba diving, traveling, voice activating my apartment, running secret puzzling societies, blacksmithing, designing word games, reading up on modern physics, or binge-watching Brooklyn 99 with my girlfriend.

To continue the conversation, tweet Shaun Salzberg @ssalzberg or Transitory @transitoryme. Shaun presented Transitory at our February 24th, 2015 Demos & Drinks event at Ainsworth Park.