A few years back, there was a neat little app called “Banjo” that was generating some buzz thanks to its timely integration of a couple of hot tech trends.
The app let you monitor social networking and media activity (hot!) based on location (hot!). There was once even an awful acronym mashup for these types of things like SoLoCo, or GeoSo, or LoCoMo, but who can even remember that far back? We’re talking, like, 2012. Olden days.
But then, Banjo sort of faded from consciousness (and from many of our smartphones) because, in the end, we didn’t care all that much that some dude on the next block was tweeting about his cats.
So it was a bit of surprise to see Banjo announce today that it had raised $100 million from Japan’s SoftBank.
“We are building a crystal ball — a way to see and know virtually everything happening across the globe the moment it happens,” wrote founder and chief executive Damien Patton in a blog post. “This funding will help make our vision to build the ultimate crystal ball a reality. By organizing the planet’s social signals by location, we’ve changed the game for our customers, and we are just getting started.”
Turns out back in 2013, the company realized that the whole social location consumer app thing wasn’t going so hot. So, it pivoted, natch. In a Fast Company feature back in November 2013, Patton explained how the service was being refocused to become a “supercharged event finder.”
Over the past two years, the company built out a social analytics platform service to focus on selling information to other businesses, rather than fickle consumers. Apparently, it’s going well. The company raised $16 million in March 2014 in a round led by Balderton Capital.
Now, the company has officially relaunched, or at least come out of its “stealth” mode, according to a recent Inc. magazine profile/gushfest called “The Most Important Social Media Company You’ve Never Heard Of.”
Well, we had heard of them. We’d just forgotten about them.
The Inc. article says Banjo is “poised to disrupt industries all over the world” and “imposes order on the vast chaotic cloud of social media and unlocks its power in ways we haven’t yet seen” and is “genius.” In other words, Banjo is feeling the love.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Banjo has created a global analytics grid that sorts the world into 35 billion squares and then classifies and analyzes any public social sharing that’s tagged with location.
“An early version of this software is already being used by large media companies as an alert system for breaking news, such as the shootings at Florida State University in November, and to zoom in and monitor ongoing events, such as the Baltimore riots,” the Journal reported.
Patten remains modest in his outlook for what the company can achieve.
“We believe we are tackling the most complex data science challenge in the world and that today’s top data scientists and engineers will be eager to join our team to help solve it,” he wrote. “We already have some of the top minds in data science, but to stay on target we need to add more. Ultimately, our team will bring order to the chaos of global data and unlock its power for everyone.
“Banjo will become the world’s premier real-time data platform. Our technology will fuel other organizations and entire ecosystems. We are only scratching the surface of the power of data intelligence today. Our crystal ball will push far beyond that boundary.”