BNDWGN and the Future of Social Tech: Q&A with Meredith Flynn-Ripley

The social-mobile app with no vowels is off and running.

BNDWGN, from the Cambridge, MA-based makers of HeyWire, a texting and social messaging service, was released into the wild earlier this week. It’s available on Android devices, with an Apple iOS version expected soon. But what does it say about the future of social and mobile tech (a very crowded and noisy sector, to be sure)?

Well, the idea is to aggregate your social-media streams from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and so on into a unified platform, organized by topics (“bandwagons”). These topics can be anything from sporting events and teams to celebrities, music, and brands. You can then communicate with others in your network about those topics in a private way—with only the people who care about those topics. It’s a new way of slicing the social graph, and it shares some similarities with approaches from other local companies such as Springpad (organized around notebooks) and Kibits (private micro-networks), both of which have been in the news as of late.

I first heard about BNDWGN back in January. It sounded intriguing, but it also raised deeper questions about how people will choose to communicate and share information on mobile devices. And how companies can make money with new social/mobile platforms. (HeyWire is now profitable—I think that’s via white-label partnerships with brands, but see below.) Surely this is just the beginning.

So I checked in with Meredith Flynn-Ripley, the CEO of HeyWire and conceptual mastermind behind BNDWGN. She’s a broadband and mobile veteran with 20 years of experience in consumer- and media-tech companies.

Here are three questions with her about the new app and why it’s important:

Xconomy: It’s hard to bring myself to try a new social app or private social network, because there’s already too much to keep track of. How does BNDWGN help with the information overload problem?

Meredith Flynn-Ripley: Being overwhelmed is a natural reaction to the sheer amount of information that’s flying our way over social media channels. The feeling you describe of already having too much to keep track of was actually one of our motivations in starting BNDWGN. … Next Page »

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