UK Location-Based App Uberlife Comes Stateside for SXSW

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British location-based social networking app uberlife, which launched in January, is making its U.S. debut just in time for SXSW.

Instead of letting users check-in to places or constantly broadcasting their location, uberlife is kind of a hybrid between Facebook events and Foursquare. According to Founder Sanchita Saha, if an uberlife user wants to meet up with people in their vicinity, they can create a hangout on the app and followers in the nearby area will receive a notification about where that user is or is going to be.

While the networks of uberlife are invitation-only, the app isn’t as private as it seems.  Anyone in user’s network gets a notification of a hangout if they are nearby, and they can share that hangout information with their own networks. Which means virtually anyone within a user’s extended online network can show up.

“When people join a hangout they’re encouraged to also share this with their network to invite whomever is free to come join too,” Saha said. “This creates viral promotion of the hangout through your network, and your networks’ networks. This way, those who join your hangout may indeed be new people and friends of friends.”

Uberlife can also post an update about the hangout via a user’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, allowing even more people to find out and join. This does help streamline telling people about an event, but could have unintended consequences if certain, or just too many, people find out. Saha said that this new model is adding spontaneity to traditional and passive location-sharing.

“Uberlife is more open, social and fun to use than traditional event creation platforms — you don’t have to be an ‘event organizer’ to use it,” Saha said. “Uberlife ‘hangouts’ are geared towards more spontaneous and casual get-togethers. Users can join, check in and post photos to the hangout and share these activities directly from the app through Facebook and Twitter creating a live activity stream before and during the hangout (promoting it in the process).”

Saha says the company ultimately wants to gain “transactional revenue share from local venues (bars, restaurants, cafes, etc.) offering group deals to users who are intending on hanging out together somewhere in the area.” Art galleries or music venues that would host users could “sell tickets through uberlife.” Like most location-based apps, uberlife is of course also looking to capitalize on mobile-targeted hyperlocal ads.

 Isa Jones is an intern at Street Fight.