Sonar, a social discovery service (and TechCrunch Disrupt alumni) that was among the top apps at last year’s SXSW in Austin, is today announcing new investment from Bing Fund. This angel fund and incubator program from Microsoft was publicly revealed this summer, allowing Microsoft to partner with entrepreneurs, which can then receive subsidies to use Bing APIs in their applications, as well as access the technologies developed by Microsoft Research.
In Sonar’s case, the company has worked with Bing quite a bit on past events, including PSFK’s Need to Know at last year’s SXSW, as well as New York events like Social Media Week, Xconomy Mobile Madness and the For Humankind gallery. Sonar says that, like Bing, it too recognizes the value of “understanding location and social – the intersection of time and place” in order to provide its users with great experiences.
For background, Sonar’s app uses check-ins on Facebook and Foursquare, plus geo-tagged tweets, to show you lists of nearby people, ranking them first by friends you know, then showing you other relevant people nearby. This type of app works well at crowded events like conferences – or SXSW, for example – but like Highlight, Banjo, INTRO and others, it has yet to become a breakout hit where mainstream users return to launch it daily. That being said, Sonar has also integrated into Foursquare’s app platform, where it serves to announce who’s nearby when you check-in.
Sonar could also take advantage of Bing’s discounted API access to replace its current mapping engine in its app with Bing Maps, though Sonar didn’t discuss which sort of integrations it may or may not be considering. There’s also potential for Sonar to team up with Microsoft Advertising, and find further integration with Microsoft’s own mobile apps, through this new relationship.
Sonar isn’t disclosing the size of the Bing Fund investment, either, but it did announce the news via Vine. (Please don’t let this become a thing.)
Sonar is a a mobile application that shows you how you are connected to the other people in the room. Sonar combines publicly available profile and location information to help you discover business contacts, colleagues, old friends and new ones at conferences, cafes, and bars. Sonar enables you take your online identity offline, to help you meet real people, in the real world.
Bing is a decision (search) engine from Microsoft officially announced on May 28, 2009. It combines technology from the Farecast and Powerset acquisitions, as well as new algorithms and a more colorful page design, to attempt to understand the context behind the search, which Microsoft claims gives users better results. Bing as a brand is also an attempt to eliminate the confusion caused by Microsoft’s “Windows Live” branding. Bing is now everything “search” related, whereas Windows Live encompasses the remnants...