Google CEO bets Scoop could be the next Facebook on campus

Remember when Facebook was a college-only social network? The people behind Scoop do, as they work to launch a social mobile app for students. And so, appparently, does Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

According to the website of TomorrowVentures, Schmidt’s personal venture-capital investment vehicle, he has invested in Trumpet Technologies, a Palo Alto-based startup developing Scoop.

Trumpet CEO Corey Reese wouldn’t comment directly on Schmidt’s investment, but he agreed to have the team behind Scoop talk to VentureBeat about their plans.

Scoop’s ambition, according to Nick Simmons and Michael Akilian, two college students Reese recruited to develop the product, is to help people discover ad hoc events on campus — the pickup basketball game, say, or impromptu fraternity party that spreads through word of mouth or text message today. And it hopes not just to list events but to recommend them based on information from its users’ social connections.

Nick Simmons, Trumpet Technologies/Scoop“Imagine having a campus-wide conversation about what’s going on,” said Simmons (pictured right recuperating from knee surgery). “That information is not all in one place today.”

The high rate of smartphone adoption on campus — as high as 50 percent, according to one survey Scoop conducted among Ivy League students — will help spread their product, the Scoop team believes. They plan to launch Scoop as an iPhone app, though Simmons says the choice of initial platform may change, at some point during the upcoming school year, at selected campuses. (They wouldn’t say where, but Simmons attends Princeton and Akilian attends the University of Texas at Austin; Trumpet itself is located near the Stanford campus.)

The goal is to roll out Scoop much as Facebook did its social network in its early days, when it launched first at Harvard, then at the rest of the Ivy League, then at additional colleges as it hit critical mass among students.

Facebook, Reese points out, no longer has the exclusive college vibe it did when he was a freshman at the University of California at Berkeley. There’s an opportunity to recreate that, he believes — using Facebook’s own playbook of having students building a service for students.

And the Scoop team plans to use Facebook’s programming interfaces to build a service that integrates closely with it.

Michael Akilian, Trumpet Technologies/Scoop“The existence of Facebook and its penetration through these campuses will be a great aid to distribution,” said Akilian (pictured here, left).

Besides Schmidt, Trumpet is apparently backed by Alsop Louie Partners, where Reese previously worked as a venture associate. His biography there states that he “now leads one of our portfolio companies, one that is still in stealth mode, as CEO” — a description which only fits his role at Trumpet.

Trumpet hasn’t disclosed its larger plans beyond Scoop, but its website describes its mission as “mobile local search.” Reese notes that the company is hiring engineers and offers lunch and dinner six to seven days a week.

Reese also acts as the company’s barista-in-residence. Here’s a video of him fixing fresh Blue Bottle drip coffee:

[Photo of students: Max Braun via Scoop website; photos of Simmons and Akilian courtesy Trumpet Technologies]


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