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IDEA #100 – Twitter License Plate social network

Can’t believe I have posted 100 ideas on this website now. As with any of them, they are all for the taking — I hope they bring you inspiration, or I hope it’s an idea that you’ll want to build! Let me know if you build any of them, I’d be excited to hear it! :)

It’s 8:45am and I was just leaving my friend’s house when I saw the parking sign that said “No Parking 9am-4pm on Mon, Tues, Wed”. It’s Wednesday. His car was parked on the wrong side. I shot him a text message and he switched to the other side of the street.

I’ve been in my car and seen tail-lights out while driving, or tires that are really low, or mufflers practically dragging, or wanting to offer sympathy to someone who’s car was obviously broken into, or someone that left their lights on in the parking lot, or a cop going down a line of cars that are parked illegally giving tickets (I wish I could warn those people!). I often try to get the attention of the people in the car, but typically it’s an utter FAIL. Sometimes I’ve seen single hotties in a car, wanting to know if they truly are single. Or I’ve seen people rocking out to a song and wanting to know what it is. Or I’ve seen a classic Mustang that I wanted to give props to.

There’s a solution that could happen to all these pains, if it were to be created and get visibility in the mainstream. There could be a Twitter service that someone builds, maybe with the ‘auto‘ twitter username (which Jason Calacanis happens to have reserved; I have ‘autos’).

I’d imagine that I could tweet “@auto NY:ABC-123 you need to move your car! you’re parked illegal, it’s Monday”. Anyone could follow ‘auto’ and they could specify which license plate numbers they want to be alerted of via direct message, with whatever was said. Each state, country, would need a proper syntax, but someone could figure that out. Here’s a list of ones in the USA.

This can then be extended to its own website domain — imagine Dogster, but for Autos. Each license plate will have its own webpage, people could send in photos as well (via twipic w/ “@auto NY:ABC-123” in the subject, which will then get pulled into this webpage). People can post make, model, color — and even link actual people to the vehicle. [Monetize the site via some Google AdSense, or displaying similar cars that are for sale on eBay. Lots of money in auto advertising vertical.]

Obviously this could have a brutal side as well, of people bitching to each other about their driving skills. 

Anyhow, even if some of my friends aren’t on Twitter or whatever, I could follow their license plates and be alerted via direct message if someone says something about them [and if it’s important, I could forward to my friend].

Any other thoughts on this idea? Put them in the comments. Otherwise, who’s building this out? Go for it, I’ll be you first beta tester.

  • Jeff Raab

    Steve – we actually had an idea similar to this at (circa 1999) – our CEO registered the domain name and gave everyone their own email address based on their license plate.

    So if your plate was XYZ123 and you were from Michigan, your email address was

    Cool idea, but we never got any traction with it…

  • Mason

    @Jeff – Maybe it’s because it was 1999, and people weren’t used to yelling random nothings into the dark like they are now. Twitter does for normal users what bulletin boards and forums did for nerds in the 80’s and 90’s – give people a platform to start flames.

    I don’t think I’d sign up for this service outright, but if it were happening on Twitter, I could see myself using it. That’s one of the mystical things about it – Twitter enables you, as users, to create ad-hoc uses for the platform. It’s why we have Follow Fridays and hashtags and Caturdays.

  • Vijayakumar

    Does any one started to work on this stuff ? if not I would like to take this idea with me to build.

  • Vijayakumar


    As you told earlier for my reply, I have started to validate the idea with existing players and found that doing similar to twitter but based their license plates to twitt, so I don’t think I can work on this idea anymore.

    Anyway thanks for posting your ideas and keep posting.


  • andy

    If you want to see this idea in action you can go to

  • Daniel

    I think Dash Text is just a copy of

  • Marco

    Hi Steve,

    Agree, a great idea! I just launched (beta) for License Plate Tweets. Go ahead, be my first beta tester. Any feedback is appreciated.



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  • Tech Freak

    Nice Idea :) A QR code with each car would also be good.

  • Louis Handfield

    “You left your keys in the car, here’s a picture of where it’s at!”
    *30 mins later* “Crap, someone stole my car!”

  • Steven P

    Like this?

    Or this:

    I tried it in Australia earlier in the year (the first link – site is now down) and got some traction in the mainstream media, but it didn’t translate to a whole lot of sign-ups.

    Bump is US based and has VC backing. Not sure how they’re going.

  • Professorvc

    Saw this launch at DEMO last year – Took a ride in their bumpmobile where they scrape license plates.