As if they weren’t smug enough already. New York’s GroupMe was voted the Breakout Digital Trend of South By Southwest by people using the official SXSW mobile app. I have no idea how many people that was, but GroupMe seemed to have the widest adoption and the loudest voice in a very noisy space.
So, there were a lot of group texting apps at SXSW. There were all the ones you’ve heard of, and then you had to double that to get the number you hadn’t heard of, and then add those two numbers together. (Blame Twilio.) I saw a lot of Groupflier and GroupedIn ads. They were creeping around the GroupMe Grill by the convention center that was serving free grilled cheese and beer. I saw New York’s Fast Society as well; they’ll raise funding soon if they haven’t already.
But the app draining everyone’s battery was GroupMe, which was used to coordinate groups heading out to meals, panels, parties and work sessions for Startup Bus companies.
The app worked pretty smoothly during the week–hurdle number one. That’s more than we can say for Foursquare, whose servers were down on the first day and which suffered at times from choked WiFi and 3G connections. GroupMe still works during SXSW-style internet bottlenecks because the app can be used over SMS instead of a data connection.
GroupMe is about halfway through an 18-month master plan, co-founder Steve Martocci is fond of saying, but he’s still vague when it comes to how exactly the company will turn its users into revenue. He did say during a SXSW panel that GroupMe will work with advertisers and will always be free to users.
Hashable was the other New York company probably hoping for the distinction. The company threw two parties and sponsored at least a dozen power user “hash evangelists” at the conference. I ran into them everywhere and they were definitely #hashing it up.
The Breakout Digital Trend award could also have gone to the trend of launching a startup on a bus! Or just to LaunchRock.