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Limbo, Brightkite merge location-based mobile social networks

Limbo and Brightkite are merging to form the largest mobile location-based social discovery service.

The combined entity will have more than 2 million unique monthly users, strong advertising revenues and an experienced executive team. The company, which will use the Brightkite brand, will focus on its combined mobile service that helps friends increase face time and share experiences.

"Both companies shared the same vision -- to be the leader in social discovery," said Rob Lawson, CMO of Brightkite, Burlingame, CA. "We both wanted our members to get out and enjoy the real world.

"The combined management team believes location-aware mobile services can empower consumers to get more face time with their friends," he said. "Together we can execute faster against our combined vision and build a fantastic service for our community of millions of consumers."

Brightkite's key demographic is 18-30. Its consumer base of 2 million monthly users is 55 percent female and geographically dispersed across the U.S.

There are various ways U.S. consumers can access Brightkite: by downloading an iPhone application, via the mobile Web at http://m.brightkite.com and http://i.brightkite.com and via SMS by texting in to the short code 41414.

Brightkite has partner and distribution relationships with Facebook, Apple and more than 25 carriers in North America and hundreds worldwide. Brightkite is live and on deck with all of the U.S. carriers.

Brightkite's goal is to provide the best user experience of all mobile social products in order to attract advertisers.

Mobile is playing an increasingly important role in social networking, according to Nielsen (see story).

By bringing Brightkite together with the millions of Limbo users, the combined management team believes that it is well positioned in the mobile social networking space.
Competitors include MocoSpace, buzzd and Loopt.

Once the integration with Limbo is complete, the new Brightkite will have 2 million unique monthly users and process more than 50 million monthly SMS messages.

Full product integration is expected to happen within weeks and, until then, consumers will continue to use Limbo and Brightkite as they have in the past. The Limbo brand name will be phased out.

Brightkite is backed by four venture capital funds: Azure Capital Partners, Draper Fisher Jurvetson, New Enterprises Associates and Nexit Ventures.

Brightkite was seed funded and mentored by TechStars.

When dealing with mobile social media, marketers need to move beyond traditional ad units such as banners, according to a panel at MediaBistro's ThinkMobile conference (see story).

All Brightkite services are ad-supported and free to its members. Brightkite does not partner with ad networks, as it has its own media sales team.

The company has run hundreds of campaigns for more than 60 brands so far this year.

"Companies like Unilever, P&G, Nissan, Chevrolet, the U.S. Navy, Yahoo and Verizon have seen exceptional performance from media placements on Brightkite in 2009 with offers that are relevant, timely and topical," Mr. Lawson said.

"We have met our revenue goals for each of the last three quarters," he said. "Advertising opportunities will increase as the merger delivers more products, more users and more inventory."