Will Brightkite Succeed Where Dodgeball Failed?

Back in 2005, Dodgeball.com which at the time was a rapidly growing company was snapped up by Google. By 2007 the developers called it quits and ended up leaving Google with some negative words for the global behemoth, “It’s no real secret that Google wasn’t supporting dodgeball the way we expected. The whole experience was incredibly frustrating for us — especially as we couldn’t convince them that dodgeball was worth engineering resources, leaving us to watch as other startups got to innovate in the mobile + social space.”

What did Dodgeball.com do? Well pretty much the same thing Brightkite.com does: let’s you know where people in your network are located. The benefit of BrightKite.com is when you check in to the system with your location, you are occasionally notified if there are other people in your network within a given radius. I tried it out but unfortunately when I tried to check in for the first time via text, I couldn’t figure out what to type. It didn’t understand what I was typing in.

I think that was more of me not understanding how the system works but honestly it should have been able to find the restaurant I was at by me providing the restaurant name, city and state. One of the major downfalls of DodgeBall.com previously was that it didn’t work for cities that were more spread out. Perhaps that was because there weren’t enough people in the network.

Whatever the reason was, Brightkite could very well suffer the same fate as Dodgeball. The founders don’t seem to think so though. Nor do the investors in the company. This is another company that has come out of the Denver area and was part of the highly successful TechStars program. My guess is that this team has a good chance of success but I’m still not sure how they’ll solve the problem of wide spanning cities.

One last challenge that I see for this company is the problem of dealing with large convention centers and college campuses. We want to be able to specify our location within areas that share the same address. Ultimately, my guess is that they’ll eventually integrate GPS into the phone. Have you used the program? Do you find a lot of utility in it?