Silicon Valley News

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Group text apps take center stage at SXSW

The annual pilgrimage to Austin, TX for South by Southwest, the largest gathering in the country for young tech startups and aspiring musicians and filmmakers, continues to grow in popularity. The festival, abbreviated SXSW, begins this weekend and runs through March 20. In recent years, SXSW, which was originally a venue for budding musicians,  has become a major tech attraction because of the nationwide attention startups such as Twitter and Foursquare received after successful debuts there.

Today, group text messaging is the niche technology that many think will take SXSW by storm. Group text apps allow users to create virtual chat rooms. Some of the group apps include an audio feature, photo sharing and integration with Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare.

SXSW will be a battleground for a large number of group text startups looking to distinguish themselves. TextPlus has nearly eight million users, by far the most of any of the group text startups. Facebook recently bought Beluga, a group text service developed by three former Google employees located a few miles away from its Menlo Park, CA headquarters. Another startup getting a lot of attention is GroupMe, which is located in New York City.

Less well-known startups, such as GroupFlier, will also be trying to grab attention at SXSW.



Fast Society, another New York City startup, is also an underdog hoping to woo the SXSW crowd.

From left, Fast Society co-founders Michael Constantiner, Mathew Rosenberg and Andy Thompson. Credit CNET