UNCG graduate Damien Patton is the founder and CEO of Banjo, the social discovery app that has become one of the leaders in the industry.

Now in its 4.0 version, Banjo has become a news and event detection engine strong enough for news organizations and networks like NBC, FOX and the BBC to use regularly. Banjo’s new version is live now on both iOS and Android, and is a free download for both platforms.

The app has received widespread coverage in the tech press, including Next Web, Tech Crunch, Fast Company, GIGOM, Samachar and Mashable. Launched in 2012, the app has been downloaded more than 6 million times. Its company is headquartered in Redwood City, Calif.

Last year, Fast Company named Banjo to its annual guide to firms leading the state of innovation in the economy, “World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Local.” Of the app, it noted: “For boots-on-the-ground updates on the tweets, Instagrams, and check-ins happening near you. The mobile social discovery app lets you virtually zoom to anyplace in the world that’s trending on Twitter, Foursquare, Facebook, Vimeo, Google, and LinkedIn.”

In an interview with Tech Crunch earlier this year, Patton said that Banjo is capable of predicting events and breaking news before they hit Google, using public social signals collected in real-time through Twitter and other networks that start to ramp up quickly whenever anything important happens.

“We look at all these social signals in real time, so what we’ve built is the largest collection of social signals in the world,” he explained. “It’s organized by three things: time, location and context. So now we’re able to curate and index (and that’s the important thing, indexing) breaking news and events faster than anyone else.”

Patton is a 1999 finance graduate, earning magna cum laude honors in the Bryan School of Business and Economics. He also was named to Beta Gamma Sigma business honorary society and received a Dean’s Medal at graduation.

He took a roundabout path in coming to UNCG, serving in the U.S. Navy during Desert Storm. His resume also includes pit crew work with NASCAR, including chief mechanic for Lowes Racing Team and a jack man for top teams MBNA, Hooters and ACDelco.

Story by Steve Gilliam, University Relations

Photo contributed by Banjo