Crowning the King of South by Southwest

Group messaging services, which make it easy tp chat with packs of friends while on the go, are hoping to break out in Austin this year. They're planning parties, giveaways, and gimmicks to win over the tech-savy hordes


Facebook acquired this group messaging service on Mar. 1
Created by: Three Google engineers who helped develop such products as Gmail and AdSense
What's special? Beluga adds a bit of whimsy—groups are called "pods"—and integrates with Facebook. Use your social networking login credentials to start texting on Beluga
SXSW Stunt: Given the recent acquisition, Beluga will keep its head down at this year's festival

Fast Society:

The tagline for this New York-based startup is "Built to Party"
Created by: Three friends with backgrounds in sales and marketing at MTV, Vitaminwater, Yahoo!
What's special? Fast Society is aimed exclusively at teens andtwentysomethings. "We're not trying to be a business tool or a tool for families," says co-founder Matthew Rosenberg
SXSW Stunt: A Patrón-fueled party and free hotel shuttles on opening day for Fast Society users


Based in Bethesda, Md., it lets users chat or "broadcast" to followers
Created by: Morris Panner, a lawyer and cybersecurity expert at Harvard's Belfer Center
What's special? Focused on influencers such as designers and musicians, GroupFlier lets them create groups of their fans and set rules for when members can respond to everyone
SXSW Stunt: Partnering with StyleX, the festival's showcase for fashion, to help designers reach fans


The startup received $11.5 million from prominent investors
Created by: A former programmer at Gilt Groupe and a business development exec at Tumblr
What's special? The founders say that GroupMe is the dead-simple messaging app that anyone can use. Its fans include a circus troupe, hunters, PTA members, and church groups
SXSW Stunt: Co-hosting a "Major Rager" party and also giving out grilled cheese sandwiches


A new app that blends group messaging and social gaming features
Created by: Ning, the 6-year-old social network backed by venture capitalist Marc Andreessen
What's special? Mogwee users can buy virtual goods like broken hearts and hamburgers. Ten zombie sheep go for 99 cents and users can "throw" them at other friends who use the app
SXSW Stunt: Ning paid to sponsor the official SXSW after-party on opening day and hired DJ Premier


Popular with teens, textPlus now has nearly 8 million users
Created by: GOGII, a 3-year-old Marina del Rey (Calif.) startup with funding from Kleiner Perkins
What's special? TextPlus sells add-ons, including an ad-free version that costs $3 a year and custom alerts for 99 cents. Users can discuss specific topics in themed "communities"
SXSW Stunt: GOGII will donate $1 to charity for every group created at SXSW (up to $10,000 in total)

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