The social discovery app Sonar has received funding from Bing Fund, Sonar and Microsoft said today.
The announcement comes a year after social discovery apps were the hot new trend at South by Southwest 2012. (The 2013 event starts next week, and SocialTimes will be there.)
Since then, Facebook acquired the social discovery app Glancee, using it to power Friends Nearby, while apps Highlight and Sonar have been relatively quiet.
By tapping in to a user’s profiles on Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter and LinkedIn, Sonar alerts the user when friends or friends of friends are nearby.
The company praised Bing’s use of “location and social” in its announcement of the partnership.
“They’ll be great friends to have along on our adventures in helping customers connect with the most relevant people, places and things nearby,” Sonar said in a blog post.
Bing’s investment hints that the search engine may be looking to make its social search results location-sensitive. Microsoft has endeavored to differentiate Bing from Google Search with more extensive social search results which are kept separate from standard Web results.
“Utilizing tech in an innovative and unique way is a quality the Bing Fund champions, like many investors and accelerators do,” Bing Fund’s senior program manager Aya Zook said of the investment.
Social discovery apps have triggered some privacy concerns. One such app, Girls Around Me, controversially advised men when a particular night club had a favorable gender balance and displayed the profile photos of the women there.
Brett Martin remains convinces that social discovery will become a fact of life.
“There’s just no possibly way that I can envision a world three to five years from now where you can’t open your phone and interact with people in the same room as you as easily as you can with people across the world,” he told SocialTimes’s parent company, MediaBistro, last year.
Martin also told MediaBistro CEO Alan Meckler that Sonar, whose main existing investor was Blumberg Capital, was only looking for additional funding from “value-add investors.”
Here’s MediaBistro an elevator-pitch interview with founder Brett Martin last year.