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Ghosts of Location Based Social Networking Past, Present and Future

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Mat Honan (Wired magazine), Nihal Mehta (Buzzd), Dennis Crowley (foursquare), Martin May (Brightkite), Jeff Holden (Pelago, Inc.)
Location: Regency Ballroom

In this session, we will analyze the evolution of location-based social networking, reviewing the historical developments that lead to today’s current state, as well as examine what the future of LBS social networks holds in the years to come. This session will examine what type of devices will be able to take advantage of these capabilities and how consumers will respond. Additionally, the panel will discuss issues that have stalled consumer adoption, catalysts that may speed up or hinder adoption and how/when these technologies will move into the mainstream. Finally, what other applications related to location-based social networking will emerge in the areas of mobile commerce, entertainment, and social media?


Photo of Mat Honan

Mat Honan

Wired magazine

Mat Honan is a contributing editor at WIRED magazine and a journalist with more than a decade of experience covering the technology industry. A former columnist for the New York Sun, his work has also appeared in Popular Science, Macworld, Mother Jones, The National Journal Technology Daily,, and Runner’s World. His story on location based services, “I Am Here,” appeared in the February 2009 issue of WIRED magazine.

Photo of Nihal  Mehta

Nihal Mehta


With over 12 years experience in innovating marketing technologies through three successful startups to date, Nihal Mehta, is a noted expert in the emerging adoption of wireless technologies for media properties and consumer brands. Named a BusinessWeek ‘M-Commerce Baron’ in 2006 and named one of AdAge’s top 20 marketers in their twenties in 2005, Nihal is currently CEO and co-founder of the location-sensitive mobile cityguide, “buzzd”. Prior to buzzd, Nihal founded ipsh!, one of the first full-service mobile marketing agencies in 2001, which he sold to Omnicom (NYSE: OMC) in 2005. Nihal started his entrepreneurial career by founding Urbangroove, an online nightlife portal, in 1999. Nihal graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Philosophy and a BSE in Computer Science.

Photo of Dennis Crowley

Dennis Crowley


Dennis Crowley is the founder of, a friend-finder service for mobile phones which helps people connect with the people and places around them. Dodgeball was acquired by Google in 2005.

He has been named one of the “Top 35 Innovators Under 35” by MIT’s Technology Review magazine (2005) and his work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Wired, Time Magazine, Newsweek, MTV, Slashdot and NBC. He is currently an Adjunct Professor at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.

Dennis holds a Master’s degree from New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program and a Bachelor’s degree from the Newhouse School at Syracuse University.

Photo of Martin May

Martin May


Martin is a co-founder of Brightkite, a location-based social networking company founded as part of the 2007 TechStars program, and acquired by Limbo Inc. in 2009. His primary areas of interest are geospatial services and mobile location technology. Martin has worked in R&D and engineering positions at various high-profile technology companies and holds a BS in Computer Science from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland. In 2009, Martin was named one of BusinessWeek’s Best Young Tech Entrepreneurs.

Photo of Jeff Holden

Jeff Holden

Pelago, Inc.

Jeff Holden is the co-founder and CEO of Pelago. He started the company in January 2006 with a vision of bringing to the physical world the innovations on the web in the area of discovery. Pelago’s flagship product, Whrrl, is a real-world game with a purpose, namely to end Social Rut – to help people escape from behind their computers and patterned lives, to get back out into the physical world with the promise of compelling, highly relevant new experiences.

Before Pelago, Holden spent 8 1/2 years at in a myriad of roles. Most recently, he was Senior Vice President of Consumer Websites, Worldwide, where he oversaw the end-to-end consumer experience including search, navigation, personalization, social computing, ordering, merchandising and automated email. He was also responsible for Amazon’s online traffic initiatives, including the Amazon Associates program, search engine optimization and search engine advertising.

Prior, Holden was the Director of Supply Chain Optimization Systems at In this position, he led the design and development of the company’s unique and powerful forecasting, inventory planning, order fulfillment optimization and transactional purchasing systems. Jeff is most proud of Amazon Prime, which he had the pleasure of leading from the consumer side while building on the technology platform developed by his team during the supply chain years.

Holden also spent five years at D. E. Shaw & Co., L.P. a New York-based hedge fund. He joined the firm as a software engineer and his first assignment was working directly with Jeff Bezos to develop a new trading strategy for the firm. Holden eventually became a Vice President at the company before leaving to join Bezos at

Holden earned his BS and MS in computer science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Prior to founding Pelago, Jeff spent almost nine years (1997-2006) at Most recently, Jeff was the Senior Vice President responsible for Amazon’s consumer websites, worldwide. In this role, he oversaw the end-to-end customer experience (search, navigation, personalization, social computing, ordering, merchandising, automated email) as well as Amazon’s online traffic initiatives (the Amazon Associates program, search engine optimization and search engine advertising) and the experimental platform that enabled Amazon to conduct quantitative experiments with regard to consumer behavior and measure incremental value of new initiatives.

Before moving into the website-focused role, Jeff was the Director of Supply Chain Optimization Systems at Amazon (for approximately 4 years). In this position, Jeff led the design and development of Amazon’s unique and powerful forecasting, inventory planning, order fulfillment optimization and transactional purchasing systems. Jeff championed the idea that fulfillment planning could be sufficiently real-time that the order pipeline could be connected directly to the fulfillment planning engine to generate optimal plans from which shipping promises are made to the customer during the check-out process. The system realizing this vision was launched in 2001 and continues to power the Amazon site today.

Prior to Amazon, Jeff spent five years (1992-1997) at D. E. Shaw & Co., L.P. in New York. Jeff joined the firm as a software engineer; his first assignment was to help Jeff Bezos build and launch the Third Market strategy, one of Shaw’s early sell-side strategies. After Bezos left to found, Jeff remained at Shaw as the Vice President responsible for the firm’s front office software infrastructure.

Prior to joining D. E. Shaw & Co., Jeff earned his BS and MS in computer science from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.