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Buzzd: 1.2 million venues in directory, strategic investment on the way

Mobile social start-up combines "geo" networking with Yelp-like reviews, and says partnerships and new investments will help it climb above the fray.

Buzzd, a mobile service focused on "real-time" reviews of bars and restaurants, says it's making some inroads in the tough, crowded location-based networking market.

The New York-based start-up is set to release numbers on Thursday announcing that 1.2 million venues are now listed in its directory, 10 percent of which were added by users. As for demographics, about 80 percent of Buzzd's users (it doesn't provide specifics on active users) are in the U.S., concentrated around cities like New York and Los Angeles, with another 10 percent in Europe and 10 percent in India.

Like many "geo" services, Buzzd lets members tell their friends where they are; rival Brightkite also lets members post "notes" on those venues, but doesn't turn them into a real-time lookup service. Buzzd has partnered with event and venue listing services like Time Out, Flavorpill, MyOpenBar, and Zagat. You can also use Facebook's newly extended API to hook it up with your profile credentials.

While it's a mobile Web site that doesn't require a download or subscription service, Buzzd has nevertheless worked on forming carrier deals--and says that more are on the way--to improve visibility in exchange for ad revenue sharing.

So what's next? Founder Nihal Mehta told CNET News.com that the all-important iPhone application is on the way, as well as a "strategic investment" on behalf of a major player in the mobile market. He's not saying who that is, but one can guess it's likely a handset manufacturer (though probably not Nokia, because it just bought competitor Plazes) or a carrier.