Commodifying Friendship

Caitlin Dewey:

Clay Kohut’s pitch for his new app, Ameego, is so absurd that it’s best to let him deliver it.

“With Uber, you rent a stranger’s car,” he begins.

“With Airbnb, you rent a stranger’s home.” Mhmm.

“With Ameego … you rent a stranger!” What?

“It’s a logical progression,” he reassures.

The Texas-born developer and entrepreneur is, as you may have suspected, a full-on millennial, just shy of 26 years old. He’s a member of a generation in which “progress” follows slightly different rules. Upon sensing a problem — such as, say, the glut of young people who find themselves in new cities, without their old friends — Kohut and his cohort hesitate but a moment before deploying apps to solve it.

In the past month, this class of fresh-faced entrepreneurs has launched the buzzy Hey! Vina, an app that “helps women find new friends,” Bro, an ambiguous social-network-slash-dating-app for “men interested in meeting other men,” and Rendezwho, which connects distant people through a series of “Buzzfeed-style questions.” They’ve pitched start-ups with self-explanatory and slightly pathetic names, like “LykeMe” and “Woez” and “Go Find Friends.” They’ve attempted a “Tinder for meeting people” and a “Meetup for spontaneous get-togethers.”

Those last two failed. Ameego won’t, Kohut insists.

“We’re the first ones to commodify friendship,” he says.

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