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Google Acquires Dodgeball 253

Posted by Zonk
from the tagged dept.
kalki writes "Dodgeball.com, a service that uses mobile phones to help people meet up with friends who are in the same location, said on its website on Wednesday that it has been bought by Web search leader Google Inc. Also available on the official site is a Q&A about the deal." From the article: "As a two-person team, Alex and I have taken dodgeball about a far as we can alone. Since we finished grad school, we've been trying to figure out how to grow dodgeball and make it a better service along the way. We talked to a lot of different angel investors and venture capitalists, but no one really 'got' what we were doing - that is until we met Google."
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Google Acquires Dodgeball

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  • people search (Score:4, Interesting)

    by farker haiku (883529) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:40AM (#12508484) Journal
    Wait, so now google helps you search a crowd for a friend of yours? I can dig it.
  • Dodgeball? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Koiu Lpoi (632570) <koiulpoi@gCOLAmail.com minus caffeine> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:40AM (#12508490)
    "It's time for you to put your mouth where our balls are!"
    • If I could do that, I wouldn't be wasting my time on /.
  • The cynic in me... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:40AM (#12508493) Homepage Journal

    We talked to a lot of different angel investors and venture capitalists, but no one really 'got' what we were doing - that is until we met Google."

    I think what he's really saying is "We begged but no one offered us any money... until we met Google."
    • It's always a good sign when people doesnt "get" your ideas :-)

      By the way, why the hell is this posted under "hardware.slashdot.org"?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      This is absolutely not true. I have met these guys, and friends of mine have helped Dens and Alex in certain ways through this process, and they were definitely offered plenty of money from other sources.
  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:42AM (#12508508)
    ...what the "???" is in

    1.
    2. ???
    3. Profit!


    It's "Get purchased by Google!"
    • Or some other big company with a lot of cash they need to spend. But that doesn't lead to profits, at least in the traditional sense. Indeed, big companies that acquire little ones very often run them into the ground. But the people who own a piece of the acquired company profit quite nicely...

      Many people dream of getting pre-IPO options in some hugely successful startup and retiring at 30. I usually get rather irritated when I see this actually happen, because it almost always means they've conned somebo

    • 1.
      2. ???
      3. Profit!


      This looks remarkably like a real plan
      1. Make a good product
      2. Get purchased by Google!
      3. Profit!

      The actual dotcom model was:
      1. Make a lot of hot air
      2. Get purchased by bigger fool
      3. Profit!

      You can't go the dotcom model unless you follow step 1. Step 2 was replaced by "???" as the market reached the biggest fools around.

      Kjella
  • What's next? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:43AM (#12508519)
    Google is in a lot of things that seem really cool.

    I am concerned, however, about the infrastructure of society being in the hands of a company.

    That is exactly what Microsoft wants, in my opinion, and in that respect, Google and MS are identical.

    That is why MS is watching Google so closely.
    • Re:What's next? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573) * on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:59AM (#12508676) Homepage
      I am concerned, however, about the infrastructure of society being in the hands of a company.

      That is exactly what Microsoft wants, in my opinion, and in that respect, Google and MS are identical.


      That's exactly what every company wants but they want to do it in a way where their customers pay out the ass for it. People support Google because it's "free" (free as in I gave out my personal habbits to the lowest bidder so I could see maps for free).
    • by RobotRunAmok (595286) * on Thursday May 12, 2005 @10:17AM (#12508835)
      I remember when personal computers were just finding a niche in business, and your choices were an x86 running DOS and a Mac. For us DOS guys, MS was this amazing Sorcerer's Tower in Redmond that kept coming up with newer, better office and personal apps. And we watched in awe as the graphics programs for Windows began to nose up on their Mac counterparts (if not their user base). MS was Great!

      Then, somewhere along the line, circa early-mid 90's, somebody looked up and realized how pervasive they were. The Novell and WordPerfect satellites had been completely absorbed into the ever-burgeoning and hungry DeathStar they orbited, and even our phones, PDAs, TV set-top boxes, and browsers began to sport the Brand of the Beast. The backlash began, but the tide was unstem-able. We had become a Microsoft Nation, save for a few cells of Linux revolutionaries and a Mac sub-culture that, by its own choice, would not breed and so could not be counted upon in the long haul.

      I am often reminded of the affection I and so many others had for MS 15 years ago, seeing it mirrored here daily in the gushing PR presented as "reporting" on the front page of slashdot. But MS brokered only tools, no matter how empowered those tools made us feel. Google brokers knowledge, and if we don't monitor their growth at least as cynically as we do that of Microsoft, we are fools.
      • Shutup, I'm eating this food and it tastes really good. How can something that tastes this good be bad for you?
      • by Chyeld (713439) <chyeldNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @11:24AM (#12509490)
        I have no problem with a Google empire. I would have had no problem with a Microsoft empire, if they hadn't built theirs Robber Baron style.

        Google is, so far, the perfect example that you CAN be a successful company and NOT lie, steal, and cheat your way there.

        For decades, I've had to deal with MBA types who revered Bill Gates, not because he was a good guy but because he was successful. They didn't care how he did it, they cared that he had done it.

        Let Google take over; let them be so pervasive that you can't go anywhere without seeing their brand; AS LONG AS THEY REMAIN THE COMPANY THEY ARE NOW.

        I'd rather spend the rest of my life dealing with business oriented types that realize it's possible to get ahead without being backstabbing, manipulative, lying, sacks of excrement than with the ones today that think their actions should only be guided by whether the potential profit outweighs the potential fees if they get caught.
    • Re:What's next? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Vacindak (669486)
      That is exactly what Microsoft wants, in my opinion, and in that respect, Google and MS are identical.

      That is why MS is watching Google so closely.

      No it's not. MS is watching Google so closely because they threaten to make the OS/platform you use to do your work irrelevant in a way that things like Java never could.
    • by PaxTech (103481) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @11:34AM (#12509582) Homepage
      Not to be outdone, Microsoft today announced they have purchased a controlling interest in Duck Duck Goose.
  • but, could there be a possibility of integrating this feature with google maps or google local eventually? Google local search of "what bar are my friends hanging out at tonight?" drop down some phone numbers, get a google map to where they are.
    • by 0x461FAB0BD7D2 (812236) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:53AM (#12508611) Journal
      If you're searching Google to find out where your friends are hanging out, perhaps technological integration isn't exactly your biggest problem.
      • While I see both of your points it would be easier than having to setup a UPOC SMS group, or have AIM group chat, or gasp -- have to call people...

        I don't like making phone calls. I have GPRS and SMS to talk w/people. Phone calls make me drop GPRS and they take too long and require my undivided attention.

        Quick SMS or IMs are much easier. If a webapp could tell you where your friends currently are (opt-in of course) then that would own.

        I don't know if I'd like to have a single company be doing that (es
      • by Anonymous Coward
        Ive seen a few responses here along the lines of "there is no need to find out where your friends are, because if they are your friends, you know." And this is entirely untrue if you have a decent social life and/or live in a reasonably populated area. I don't call every single person in my phonebook on a friday night to see where they are or where they are going to be. Furthermore, drunk people rarely stay at the same bar for a period of time. I would easily say that the #1 use of my cell phone is finding
        • What is especially interesting is that when we can use the technology to deal with the boring aspects of socialisation we can give more attention to more advanced things. For example, I don't need to spend hours wandering around my city block looking for people who may be interesting in discussing social aspects of some innovative mobile applications. I just click on a link, read the story^H^H^H^H^Hblurb, read the comments and post what I think.

          Similarly, may be if people don't feel like they need to spend
    • by JFMulder (59706) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:59AM (#12508673)
      Or, "Where is my ex so I can stalk her?"
    • Google local search of "what bar are my friends hanging out at tonight?" drop down some phone numbers, get a google map to where they are.

      Or, change that to "what bar is my soon-to-be exwife hanging out in tonight?"

      If it can be used by your friends, it can be used by people who don't like you. There's always a flip side.

    • TOtal integration, all things location-based. Location software is one of the last frontiers we have. Sure their are those that have done stuff like this a while ago, but how many of them have popular integrated features? None I've heard of.

      It's a little difficult to singlehandedly (for a person) to do something like that all by themselves.
  • by romit_icarus (613431) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:45AM (#12508528) Journal
    I wonder if this acquisition is somehow related to the Google Ride Finder (http://labs.google.com/ridefinder [google.com]).

    It's New York City, it's location based, and it's more than GPS...

  • by coupland (160334) * <<dchase> <at> <hotmail.com>> on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:45AM (#12508530) Journal
    Crap, do Sun [slashdot.org] and IBM [slashdot.org] know about this? They'll have to make a couple more purchases just to keep up with Google. Wake me up when there's only one fish left in the pond...
  • Great plan Bart (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Underholdning (758194) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:45AM (#12508542) Homepage Journal
    Great idea. Google has had tremendous success with it's prior engagement in social sites. Just look at Orkut.com
    Yes, I was being sarcastic. I'm still trying to figure out why they made this move. It doesn't seem to fit into the "organizing the world" mantra?
  • When you look at all the services Google has that they offer for free, and some of their paid services, Google really has filled a needed market. Go to one place for everything. It will be interesting to see what effect Google has on YAHOO over the next year. I like Yahoo's main page, but Google simply rocks.
    • Agreed they offer some cool stuff for free, but i think they are doing the exact same thing yahoo did which was stop caring about search and spending IPO money on all kinds of other crazy fun things. So yeah, yahoo is a great one stop place to get stock quotes, sports scores etc, but the search went downhill. Same thing with Google...i think they are already behind on the search curve because of new types of searches like Clusty [clusty.com] that are much more useful then their current search engine.
      • This brings up an interesting question that I'd like to see a few people comment on. What is the best search engine out there now? I have heard a few talk about Ask Jeeves, and some others.
        • I really like Clusty.com because you can sort things by category, the way the old yahoo directory worked. So if you do a search for say "Paris" it will split the results into groups like "Paris Hilton", "Paris, France", "Paris Casino" etc... Unlike google where you have to either type in a specific phrase that would make the results clear, or wade through tons of useless results.
  • by Mean_Nishka (543399) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:50AM (#12508578) Homepage Journal
    This Dodgeball thing looks pretty cool. It would be even better if it worked using location based GPS vs. SMS messaging.

    One thing to watch is the post acquisition. Google's really didn't do much for Orkut. While Friendster continually builds a user base and adds features, Orkut remains slow and bug ridden.

  • Recess (Score:3, Funny)

    by elmarkitse (816597) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:51AM (#12508586)
    Guess Google got tired of getting beaned all the time at recess so they just bought the whole darned game. EK
  • Does this mean.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by hass (869418)
    that Google will know where I am, too?
  • New Trend (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mattmentecky (799199) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:51AM (#12508592)
    I predict a new trend to start emerging: Think of a unique/different way in which 'searching' is in anyway involved and create a startup with full intentions of being bought by Google.
  • by the_mutha (177709) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @09:52AM (#12508601)
    If I'm not mistaken, the first service that google launched that was able to help you keep track of your friends was Orkut. Orkut has been hugely successfull here in Brazil. So much so, to the point where a lot of people have closed their accounts because of security concerns.

    I remember reading a cartoon one of these days where basically before a job interview, the interviewer starts to mention all this "nasty" stuff about the interviewee because he checked the interviewee's Orkut and found all the groups where he belongs to, etc. I've also heard about people getting dumped because of Orkut. Many people have already closed their accounts because of this. If you are evil, you can find out A LOT about the person's life and do them harm.

    Obviously dodgeball does not fall into this category, but it makes me think about all the services Google has planned. Obviously that overall they do more good than harm, but I can't help but think that some of this will be abused and used by organized crime, identity theft etc.

    Think about it.
    • Orkut
    • Google maps
    • Dodgeball


    Now mix those three together. I wonder how far Google will go in integrating these services, and how much care they will take in preventing abuse. We'll just have to wait and see.
    • I remember reading a cartoon one of these days where basically before a job interview, the interviewer starts to mention all this "nasty" stuff about the interviewee because he checked the interviewee's Orkut and found all the groups where he belongs to, etc. I've also heard about people getting dumped because of Orkut. Many people have already closed their accounts because of this. If you are evil, you can find out A LOT about the person's life and do them harm.

      I fail to see how that's different than a
      • I don't think it's as simple as that last sentance. See my previous post - but basically there are people in positions of power, the majority of those in such positions in fact, who control your destiny and who will use your affiliations against you.

        If I have an opinion that I would defend happily in an argument with someone who can think and who isn't offended by his or her ideas being challenged, but I know this same opinion *would* offend 90% of people, I certainly wouldn't want this opinion to be able

    • That's why you don't connect your online persona(e) to your real identity - at least if you think you might say something that some idiot somewhere might find offensive or controversial - i.e. anything interesting.

      Of course my email address is linked pretty well to my real identity, but then I give that out to real people I know. If I were to post something on, oh, I don't know, slashdot, I use some alias which no one who knows me personally could connect to me. Some with usenet etc.

      I'm not saying this is
      • That's the fallacy of pseudonymity on the web. Have you ever posted something using your pseudonym from your real IP address? Or used both your real identity and pseudonym while maintaining the same tracking cookie in your web browser? Or leaked personally identifiable semantic information by posting from the same brain (google stylometry)?

        Once the two identities are linked by a single careless move (like those mentioned above), your pseudonym is compromised retroactively. You are now personally accountabl
  • If anyone can beat GloboGym, the Google team can.
  • by otisg (92803) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @10:04AM (#12508724) Homepage Journal
    Ah, interesting. If you've read Paul Graham's latest essay and last night's thread [1] on Slashdot, you'll find this paragraph from Paul'e essay rather interesting and timely:

    "What companies should do is go out and discover startups when they're young, before VCs have puffed them up into something that costs hundreds of millions to acquire."

    [1] http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=149177&cid=125 06957 [slashdot.org]
    [2] http://simpy.com/ [simpy.com] - 1-man mini Google
  • why didn't they buy http://www.plazes.com/ [plazes.com] ? I think it's the better system.
  • by WormholeFiend (674934) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @10:08AM (#12508761)
    an opposing team?

    As a two-person team, Alex and I have taken dodgeball about a far as we can alone.
  • You may be doing a lot more than just checking for their name on the internet. When google starts aggregating information from the internet, Orkut, blogger, gmail, and now dodgeball, under a "peopleranking" algorithm, it will be a very interesting world. Just think about how much power a neighborhood watch group equipped with camera phones can have by using those four services. Throw in google.maps (which I think will eventually use a livestream from Keyhole) and you are approaching Total Information Awa
  • Stories really should use the coral cache [nyud.net]. Will herecast [herecast.com] be next ?
  • May 12, 2005

    Google, the company known primarily for its internet search engine, has announced today that it has acquired a dodgeball. Eric Schmidt, the CEO of the pioneering internet company, made the purchase at a silicon valley sporting goods superstore, Sports Authority, for the sum of $12.95.

    "This acquisition will become a cornerstone of our future growth plans," said Schmidt. "In the coming weeks, this dodgeball will be hurled at tremendous speed within the executive offices. It is likely to knock phones, pen holders, and even some of those magnetic paper-clip boxes off of the desks of many employees. This should stir things up, and get our best people thinking either outside of the box, or about looking for another job. The combined one-two punch of increased thinking and lower payroll costs will propel Google forwards into the next century."

    Sally Jones, an employee at Sports Authority, said that the transaction went smoothly. "Initially, when we met with Schmidt, we were concerned the acquisition would be a hostile takeover. However, he assured us that his plans for the dodgeball were based on growth and solid corporate fundamentals. The fact that his credit card was not declined was also assuring." Sally says that she recommended the purchase of an air pump to help inflate it, but that Schmidt declined, stating that the company's "[value] is already inflated."

    The acquisition comes on the heels of rumours that Microsoft has plans to acquire a badminton set. A Microsoft spokesman was not available for comment.
  • Money Maker (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dwayner79 (880742)
    This is going to be huge. Not only are you going to be near a freind, you will be near 3 shops that have ads with google. It may get annoying, but they have to pay for this somehow.
  • ...if you're trying to meet up with a forgetful friend who always forgets to take his mobile out with him?
  • Cuz, y'kno (Score:4, Insightful)

    by aztektum (170569) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @11:28AM (#12509529)
    It would make too much sense to just to call your friends mobile phone to find out where they are.
  • by twifosp (532320) on Thursday May 12, 2005 @11:38AM (#12509634)
    This strategy is no different than offering a free search. When you search, google knows what you're looking for and gives you advertisements based on that. Now they are adding the where.

    Google is going to become the premier marketing company in the future. They are really good at providing a service that people want or need, but at the same time, that service also helps them collect data on you. Is this a good or bad thing? I can't really tell yet. However, I just had a flash back to Minority Report where people are getting customer advertisements based on who they are.

    Let's look at what google can know about you, if you use all of their services (present and future):

    1. Google Search: What kind of things you search on a regular basis. Your interests and hobbies.
    2. Gmail: What kind of content you get in your email.
    3. Google Cache Proxy: Where you surf the web and how often.
    4. Google Maps: Where do you want to go?
    5. Google Dodgeball: Where do you and your friends actually go?

    Think about it. I could easily forsee LCD screens on streets, in bars, at your restuarant table which display custom google ads. As soon as you pass by them, your bluetooth enabled phone broadcasts your cell phone number to the receiver which transmits to the Google Person Database. This database spiders out and looks up your most recent searches, your friends searches, other people who search like you, accesses your e-mail indexes, looks up what locations you visit on a regular basis, and gives you a custom advertisement which has the best probability to sell to the thousands of other people who have a similar demographic to you.

    I'm starting to think of Google as marketing powerhouse with really smart technology, rather a technology powerhouse with really slick marketing.

    I'm struggling to find the answer: What can't Google figure out or make damned good assumptions about you, based on your Google use?

  • The idea that I'd send text messages every time I entered a new area is silly. Symbian phones can lookup what Cell ID they are connected to and use that for rudimentary positioning. It'd be cooler to have a program that would ping a server whenever I entered a new cell zone, and alert me if my friends are connected to the same cell.
  • and will probably be that way the rest of the day.
    How much will that cost them?
  • Did nobody notice the top line of the page? The poster of this story included a Session ID variable in the query string, and apparently dodgeball does a terrible job with security, because now we're all logged in as rekcah5. Wow. Hopefully Google helps out a bit.

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