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Stealthy Swipp raises $3.5M, takes a swipe at Twitter and Facebook

Swipp, a stealthy Silicon Valley startup is betting that the social network in all its current glory is still just scratching the surface. It has raised $3.5 million in funding from Old Willow Partners.

Swipp — the name rhymes with sip and has no real meaning — is still in the hush-hush stages of its launch cycle. After a year in stealth mode, it’s now readying products for summer release that will offer consumers and businesses a fresh twist on social and some new ways to monetize social data.

“We look at social as it is today as version 1.0. It’s really just the first instance,” Swipp CEO and co-founder Don Thorson told VentureBeat. “What kind of applications would the world come up with if you had everyone persistently connected on the globe?”

Swipp will blend social media, personal data, and commerce, although Thorson won’t say exactly what it does or what it looks like yet.

“You will use Swipp in addition to, and in some cases instead of, other social media applications,” Thorson said, adding that the platform has Twitter-, Yelp-, and Foursquare-like characteristics.

After some prying — and boy did we pry — Thorson boiled Swipp down to “a social data play” that will “extract a lot more knowledge and intelligence from the communities than Facebook and Twitter do.” The 10-person startup also believes it has hit upon a never-seen-before business model that will appeal to brands.

You’re skeptical? We are too. But have a little faith. Thorson’s been around the block — the Valley, rather — and may know a thing or two about how to take social to its next level. The sixteenth employee at Atari, Thorson was also a creative director at Apple, the vice president of marketing at telephony startup Jajah (later sold to Telefonica), and the chief marking officer at Ribbit. Ribbit sold to BT for $105 million in 2008 during Thorson’s tenure.

So maybe we should reserve judgment until we see it. After all, the company did land a respectable $3.5 million in its first round of funding.

“The business model for social is unproven, and the company has a solution that’s as novel as it is elegant,” said Rich Heise of Old Willow Partners, now a board member at Swipp thanks to his firm’s investment. “We see Swipp as not just the next thing to watch in social media, but the next generation in commerce, where consumers will be empowered to interact more openly and effectively with brands on the open web.”

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