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This just in: Google has acquired Dodgeball.com, the New York-based mobile social networking site. Some details here at the Dodgeball site. Google tells us it’s not commenting on the deal, “and (we) don’t have any announced plans for it.” For those clueless about Dodgeball – which is now in 22 cities, including San Francisco – it uses mobile phones as a social networking tool. Users can alert their circle of friends with text messages if they are going to be in a certain bar or hang-out. Or they can receive text alerts if friends of friends are going to be in the vicinity. There’s also a “crush’ feature that allows users to meet other Dodgeball users. The service was started by a couple of NYU students (not everything comes out of Stanford). From their site announcing the deal:
“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. The people at Google think like us. They looked at us in a “You’re two guys doing some pretty cool stuff, why not let us help you out and let’s see what you can do with it’ type of way.”
Social networking guru Clay Shirky, who knows the founders, blogs here. And here’s an earlier post from Shirky and previous press coverage.
UPDATE: Pamela Parker at ClickZ touches on the possible ad play for Google.
UPDATE (5/12): We had asked Shirky to give his thoughts on how Dodgeball might fit into Google’s ecosystem. He got back to us overnight, and his reply is below:
Dodgeball is, of course, a fraction of Google’s size, but provides them with a bunch of interesting technolgies and use patterns.
* Dodgeball uses the mobile phone as its native platform, someplace Google wants to further extend it’s reach.
* Dodgeball does a better job mapping to real-world social networks than Orkut, since there’s an actual reason *not* to friend someone in db, namely that you don’t want to get spammed with 100 SMSes a night.
* Google’s mapping work is good at “Where am I?” and “Where is the gas
station?” but not so good at the question “Where are my friends?” Dodgeball is really good at that.
Given that the core Dodgeball proposition — we can mix fixed information about places and fluid information about people to create new value — improves a) the more information you have upfront and b) the more people are using it, the addition of db to Google is really good news for db, and will provide a really interesting platform for G to experiment with.