Deals

Former Blackboard CEO raises $12.75M for SocialRadar to force serendipity

socialradarSocialRadar has raised $12.75 million to, well, build out your social radar.

Its application combines location-based mobile technology and social media information to make you aware of the people and connections around you. It seems a lot like Highlight, which generated a lot of fanfare at the SXSW conference in 2012 but hasn’t made much noise since. SocialRadar is still in the development phase and is working with iPhone, Android, and Google Glass to “change the way people connect.”

Founder and CEO Michael Chasen said the world now has 1.1 billion smartphones and 2.8 billion online social profiles. SocialRadar’s “singular vision” is to make use of this information through GPS, allowing you to walk into a room and immediately have access to a relationship map.

Serendipity is so old-fashioned, don’t you think?


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Chasen was a cofounder and former CEO of ed-tech behemoth Blackboard. He spent 15 years there and took the company public in 2004, and then sold it to Providence Equity Partners in 2011 for $1.7 billion. This latest project is taking on the social-local-mobile space, although it seems a bit late to the game. I don’t know anyone who still uses Highlight (and I have pretty tech-savvy friends.) It is awkward to go up to someone and say “hey, this app said we should be friends”. Networking is generally done through warm introductions. Furthermore, if I am walking into a party or bar, chances are I am familiar with my friends who are there and don’t need my phone to remind me.

My own skepticism aside, the DC-based company managed to pull in a hefty Series A round of funding from DC-heavy hitters. New Enterprise Associates led this round, along with Grotech Ventures, and Swan and Legend Ventures. Big name angels also participated, including Path cofounder Dave Morin, AOL cofounder Steve Case, Ted Leonsis, partner at General Catalyst, Kevin Colleran, and others.

Not too much information is available about SocialRadar yet, but this significant support leads me to believe it is much more than the next generation of Highlight.

Photo Credit: SocialRadar’s team lifting a whiteboard in their new office