Banjo was founded in 2011 by Damien Patton, and is sometimes called ‘the live internet’ as it lets those who are using this app experience unfolding events in real time. They can watch breaking news as well as live events through the eyes of people who are actually there. It works by collating content from social media such as Google Plus, EyeEm, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as well as many more, collating all geo-tagged, publicly available content and indexing it by location, content and time.
It was initially intended to help app users to keep up with their friends, and in 6 months was being used by half a million people. By 2014, and following successive software upgrades, it had 6 million users.
In May 2015, Banjo announced that it had successfully obtained funding of $100 million from Softbank, located in Japan. Softbank was established in 1981, has its headquarters in Tokyo and is now the 62nd largest organisation in the world.
Banjo needed investment to realise its ambition of creating a ‘crystal ball’ – a way of seeing everything that is trending across the whole planet in real time. It is hoping to harness the enormous power of social media by imposing order and structure on the vast banks of accumulating information.
The company has created a framework which divides the earth into 35 billion grid squares; each time something is shared publicly on social media which has been tagged with a location, it is classified and analysed. It plans to become the world’s leading real-time data platform, pushing far beyond existing boundaries.
The next blog post in this series from Mukesh Valabhji will examine Softbank’s investment strategy in more detail.