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5/12/2005
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Google Acquires Mobile Social-Networking Company Dodgeball.com

Google Inc. has bought Dodgeball.com, a social-networking startup that helps people find and talk to each other through mobile text messaging.

Google Inc. has bought Dodgeball.com, a social-networking startup that helps people find and talk to each other through mobile text messaging.

The Mountain View, Calif., search giant bought the two-person company May 11 for an undisclosed amount. The announcement was made on the Dodgeball.com website.

New York-based Dodgeball.com is run by founder Dennis Crowley and Alex Rainert, both graduates of New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program. The company's technology enables people to send text messages that can go to pre-selected friends, as well as any friends of friends within a 10-block radius. Photos are sent with the alerts to help people identify strangers.

The service targets young adults looking for an easy way to organize a social meeting at a local bar or other place.

Google declined comment, saying it did not have any "formal announcement or interviews planned."

"We're not disclosing terms or anything like that, and don't have any announced plans for it (Dodgeball.com)," a Google spokesman said in an e-mail.

Allen Weiner, analyst for market researcher Gartner Inc., said the acquisition reflects the trend among all the major Internet portals, Google, Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp.'s MSN and America Online Inc., toward technology platforms that may one day integrate several forms of communication, including instant messaging, e-mail and Internet telephony.

On top of this platform, the companies could offer applications like Dodgball.com's, as well as the ability to buy and share music and video, buy tickets to events, and conduct other transactions, Weiner said. Yahoo 360, which allows people to share photos, create blogs and send instant messages to groups of friends, is the best example to date of the emerging communication platform.

The goal of this trend is "stickiness," Weiner said. A longtime strategy among Internet companies to get visitors to their site and keep them there.

"They want to keep you in their world for as long as possible," Weiner said. "This is stickiness to the nth degree."

In making the acquisition announcement, Dodgeball.com said it chose Google after talking to many angel investors and venture capitalists.

"No one really 'got' what we were doing -- that is until we met Google," the company said.

As a part of Google, the company expects to receive the money needed to expand its business and develop new features for its service. For current customers, the acquisition means they will use the service under Google's privacy policy and terms of service.

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