SocialRadar debuts social networking app


Michael Chasen, chief executive of Social Radar, demonstrates the app. (Jeffrey MacMillan/Jeffrey MacMillan)

District-based SocialRadar, the upstart Michael Chasen created after stepping down as chief executive of Blackboard, debuted its eponymous social networking app for the iPhone Thursday.

The app gives users the ability to see friends, acquaintances and strangers near them based on location information those people have shared through SocialRadar, Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

You can also pull up information about them from those same social networks — job changes on LinkedIn, interests on Facebook, recent stops on Foursquare, etc. — with the idea of giving you a conversation starter.

Want your phone to buzz every time a friend, colleague or ex steps within 500 feet? You can set text and e-mail alerts that ping you when different people approach.

“This is technology that becomes commonplace in the next couple of years,” Chasen asserts.

He predicts the first adopters for applications like SocialRadar are tech enthusiasts and uber networkers — Washington certainly has a high population of both — but in three to five years time such applications could come standard on all smartphones.

SocialRadar applications for Google Glass and Android will follow in the coming months.

“I think it’s not dissimilar from mapping software, like Google Maps. Before your smartphone, did you carry around an atlas in your pocket or a map in your pocket all the time? The answer is no. But now you probably use Google Maps everyday.”

Similarly, most people would find it strange to go into a restaurant and know who is around them. But that’s changing. “We all have location beacons in our pocket. All of our information is in the cloud,” he said.

Sound like big brother? SocialRadar allows you to set your information to public, friends only, anonymous or invisible depending on your comfort with sharing personal details.

“When you have a system like this, you also have to have a high degree of privacy,” Chasen said.

The 20-employee firm raised $12.75 million last June from a series of investors that includes New Enterprise Associates, Grotech Ventures, SWaN & Legend Venture Partners and former AOL executives Steve Case and Ted Leonsis.

Follow Steven Overly on Twitter: @StevenOverly

Steven Overly covers the business of technology, biotechnology and venture capital in the Washington region for The Washington Post and its weekly Capital Business publication. In that capacity, he has written about start-up struggles, investment trends and major drug discoveries.
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