At about 10:00 last night, when a van swerved into the bike lane on the PCH where I was cycling, I decided to stop riding. I know how dangerous the PCH can be and didn’t want to end up another PCH casualty.

I called my girlfriend and we both called every Ventura cab company we could find. Most didn’t pick up. The ones that did promised to pick me up in 15 minutes, but they never came. When we called to check on them, they didn’t answer their phones.

So I called 911 and asked for help. 911 said they’d call me back.

I was cold and alone, so I twittered. It was a habit. I didn’t expect anything. But within minutes, @KenFeldman texted to see how I was doing. Then he called and offered to pick me up. Then Efrin of @TechZulu called me.

By then my girlfriend realized she’d have an easier time getting a cab in Santa Monica and taking the hour-long drive to get me. So she came to my rescue. But after hours of standing in the cold by myself, it felt great to talk with friends, to know there’s someone willing to help.

911 eventually called me a cab–they called the same company that left me hanging. They have more important things to do. I understand.

I just can’t believe how helpful twitter–a company that didn’t exist a few years ago–could be.

I know there’s a lot of doubt about the utility of recent startups, but I see every day how startups are improving lives and changing the world. That’s why I love helping new companies grow.