Mo-Soc Nets Brightkite and Limbo Merge

Two independent location-based mobile social networking providers BrightKite and Limbo have merged. The Brightkite brand will be the surviving one, but the company will be headquartered in Burlingame, CA (Limbo's offices). The companies also have access to the $9 funding round that Limbo recently received.

The two services combined will have several million reported users on a global basis. Both offer location based advertising and their merger is an attempt to gain more scale on the user side and to offer a stronger play for advertisers.


Mobile social networking is a segment ripe for consolidation, as the combination above suggests. It's a space that will be dominated (it already is) by established Internet brands such as Facebook and MySpace.

There will be a few independent companies that succeed but most will not. Loopt is probably the highest profile independent mobile-LBS company in the US, while Mocospace is on the pure social networking side. However the quality of ad inventory on Mocospace has been repeatedly criticized in private conversations I've had with people.

Recently Whrrl, a mobile-centric site like Yelp reinvented itself around the concept of storytelling (tied to place). As more and more people adopt the mobile Internet, the desktop brands have the advantage of a built-in user base. The audiences are thus theirs to lose. Independent, mobile-only companies must offer a user experience that is especially compelling and/or the PC-based companies moving into mobile must essentially botch the mobile user experience to create an opening for the independents.

Expect more such consolidation in the coming months. (As they used to say in the earlier days of blogging, hat tip to Perry Evans for alerting me to the merger via Twitter.)