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On a warm August morning, Wallace sees that someone wants a Kansas City road map and will pay $15 for its delivery. He explains his method for making deliveries more profitable. First, he says, he always rides either his Honda Nighthawk motorcycle or a scooter that conserves gas. Second, he uses Craigslist to find certain things people are Zaarly-ing — the golf shoes that someone else has him hunting, for example.
"I always go through the free section because people give away free stuff all the time, like crazy," Wallace says of Craigslist. "And if there's nothing posted in the free section, I'll go to 'For Sale,' because sometimes people just want to get rid of stuff. And if they're getting rid of stuff, then I'll hit them up or make them an offer, and if it's worth making, you know, 10, 15, 20 bucks off it, then I'll do it."
This morning, he cruises on the Nighthawk to a nearby QuikTrip, buys two maps and heads to Zaarly's offices, just west of the River Market. The map, it turns out, is for a Zaarly employee who wants to track where door hangers advertising the company's services have been placed.
Wallace parks his bike in the building's small lot and jogs up the back stairs rather than approaching the front door. An employee answers the locked door. Wallace, money now in hand, calls out across the office to a couple of employees he has come to know: "Thanks, Josh. See you, Tom!" The fact that he's on a first-name basis with the Zaarly staff is indicative of what he says is the young company's one major flaw.
"There's not enough people on it yet," he says. Wallace estimates that roughly 70 percent of his customers so far have been Zaarly employees. The company offices are indeed easy to on the Zaarly website map via a constant cluster of requests concentrated in one building.
There have been a few other growing pains. In July, a security glitch exposed some user information, including (it was briefly feared) phone numbers. Fishback dismisses it as a minor stumble for a company expanding so fast.
"You know, whatever," he says. "Some hacker found a hole. You couldn't actually get any important information out of it, but what he did was, he e-mailed me but he also e-mailed all the editors of the major tech places. It was pretty low-trauma."
The CEO says such missteps ultimately improve his company — sometimes in unexpected ways.
"We had a 17-year-old kid find another hole," Fishback says. "Again, zero risk associated with it. But he just e-mailed us directly and said, 'Hey, guys, don't worry, I come in peace, but I just found this little hole, just thought you should know about it.' So we put him on contract to find some other holes to see if he could."
Wallace says he occasionally has had minor issues with mapping Zaarly's traffic. Sometimes, users post something from one place, but the location of the delivery is somewhere else.
He recalls a 2 a.m. request that he and a friend set out to fulfill: Someone wanted Taco Bell delivered to his house. On the Zaarly map, the request appeared to be not far from Wallace's home in midtown. But the user was in Overland Park, which led to Wallace encountering another of Zaarly's potential problems.
"We actually met the guy on a street corner because he was creeped out," Wallace says. "He didn't want us to know where he lived."
Fishback says he doesn't believe Zaarly will face complaints similar to those leveled against Craigslist, which has been marred with allegations that it has promoted prostitution and created contact points for human trafficking and other criminal activity. In the same way that eBay's anti-scam model encourages eBay users to leave public feedback about one another, the key to keeping Zaarly safe, he says, is that each user's success on the site depends on that person's earning a good reputation.