Location Technology Startup SocialRadar Buys Gridskippr, Rolls Out SDK

SocialRadar, the location-based social app created by former Blackboard co-founder and CEO Michael Chasen and backed by $12.8 million, is announcing the acquisition of Baltimore-based Gridskippr, a targeted mobile advertising company founded last August. Terms of the all-stock deal were not revealed, but the two companies had already been working closely together over the past year to develop better technology for the SocialRadar app that improved location accuracy while reducing the drain on smartphone batteries.

Coming in on the tail end of the social/local app hype cycle, SocialRadar is competing in a market where several companies are still trying to leverage location as a tool for social networking, whether that’s dating apps like Tinder or other friend finders like Foursquare’s Swarm, for example. The SocialRadar app itself lets you see who’s nearby and how you’re connected (College friend? Former colleague?, etc.)

2_DC_mainscreenWith the Gridskippr technology, SocialRadar is now able to expand in a direction beyond its consumer-facing mobile presence. The tech’s ability to improve location accuracy, reduce battery drain and generate detailed insights on app users is today becoming available to the developer audience as an SDK. Chasen notes that this sort of functionality is in high-demand – at Apple’s WWDC 2014 event, Apple noted that over 680,000 apps – almost have of them on iPhone – use location data, he says.

In the new SocialRadar SDK, developers have access to a location manager that provides accurate venue and event data, and that goes beyond lat/long data with more precision. App users can also be segmented into various categories based on where they’re visiting. (E.g. people buying cars, frequent flyers, sports fans, and others). Meanwhile, a data monetization module lets app publishers generate new ad revenue based on its user base, how they’re spending their time and what they’re doing.

The SDK also reduces battery drain to 2.5% per hour down from the 6%-14% found in competing location-based apps.

“We are excited that with this acquisition SocialRadar is now able to bring their advanced location technology more broadly to the market,” said Dayna Grayson, a SocialRadar investor and partner at NEA, in a statement. “Increasingly, we see through our investments at NEA that mobile app developers need more refined, specific location data on their users. We think SocialRadar’s new SDK will enable applications at all stages of growth to understand their users better.”

Mobile user segmentation is a competitive market as well, with a number of services that allow developers to dive into an app’s user demographics (age, gender, income, etc.), interests, context, time/time of day, and other app-specific events. But if SocialRadar’s promises of better location accuracy and reduced battery drain hold true, it could find footing in the location-based app niche within that broader market.

Chasen tells us this SDK doesn’t represent a pivot for the company away from consumer mobile. “We we are continuing to move forward with our consumer app, but want to make the technology we have developed available to other app developers as well,” he explains. “We’ve had a lot of early success with the beta roll out of our SocialRadar consumer app in Philly, D.C. and NYC, and we are taking the feedback from that set of users and incorporating into next version of the app which we will then roll out nationally in Q1.”

Gridskippr had only a handful of employees, and they have now relocated to SocialRadar’s D.C. office.

Developers interested in testing out the new SDK can request access here.

Correction: Gridskippr was originally misspelled as Gridskipper. This has been corrected.