San Diego’s Ready to Hit the Road With Auto-Based Social Networking

With less than two weeks to go before one of the big tech meetings of the year, the countdown has begun at the Bump network’s headquarters in the scenic San Diego coastal community of La Jolla.

After unveiling a beta version of its social network technology at the Demo Fall conference almost six months ago, the startup plans to officially launch the commercial version of the Bump social network at the 18th annual SXSW (South by Southwest) Interactive Festival, which begins March 11 in Austin, TX.

In anticipation of’s rollout, founder Mitch Thrower tells me the company recently acquired Plateside, a social networking app in the iTunes store, after previously acquiring and He says also closed an undisclosed round of funding last week. Thrower told me several weeks ago that was working to raise about $3.5 million, after it had pulled together about $1 million in initial funding (from mostly individual investors) shortly after he founded the company in 2009.

The founding CEO says he started with a vision of creating a communications platform that can send voice, text, and e-mail messages to motorists in the Bump network—by simply scanning an image of their license plate.

When you join the Bump network, you essentially activate an account for your car, based on the license plate number listed in public databases for motor vehicle registrations. The company’s technology allows subscribers to use a car’s license plate number to send messages and even place calls through the Bump network. (Once a message has been sent to a license plate through the service, it is stored in’s database until the owner of the plate registers with process known as “claiming” a license plate.) Registered users can link their account to their mobile phone, and to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. also has developed automated license plate recognition technology, capable of reading five license plates per second, so subscribers can use their mobile phone cameras to connect to other vehicles by taking a … Next Page »

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Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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