Google buys Marratech e-meeting startup: Nerd paradise?

Google Buye E-Meeting Startup: Nerd Paradise?
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor
Marratech touts “work better with cross-platform, video conferencing on the Web."

But, will Marratech REALLY "work better" with Google?

Acquired by Google, the engineer-led, Sweden based start-up matches a core Google “small” buyout acquisition strategy, as I analyzed last week in Google buyouts are BAD business.


Is Google trully a friend of entrepreneurs when it “thinks small” in scooping up fledging start-ups at barely more than asset value in order to neutralize potential competition, bag engineering talent and fatten up its library of code, I asked, citing the Google 2005 buyout of Dodgeball mobile social networking software and team as a case study example.


Just days later my theory was reinforced when in fact Google dumped by Dodgeball founders

Just like Marratech, Dodgeball began as a university research software development project. Dodgeball had its beginnings at the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), New York University. The ITP Website still touts that great Google day, May 11, 2005, in ITP history:

Congratulations to ITP Alumni Dennis Crowley ('04) and Alex Rainert ('04)!  Their thesis project, Dodgeball was just acquired by Google on May 11, 2005! 

The ITP link to the Google-Dodgeball news is dead, however, as are the Crowley and Rainert hopes for a Google promised “collaboration” to make Dodgeball a Google star.

The unhappy ending to the Google-Dodgeball story:

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. And while it was a tough decision (and really disappointing) to walk away from dodgeball, (we’re) actually looking forward to getting to work on other projects again (at other companies).

Google acknowledged they gave up on Dodgeball not long after it was absorbed into the Googleplex. Why did Google soon dodge Dodgeball? A classic case of the grass is always greener on the other mobile social networking side.

Newly Google acquired Sweden-based Marratech shares a similar start-up profile as Dodgeball:

Marratech develops and markets software solutions which enable remote groups and individuals to collaborate and interact over the internet. Our products are based on research that began in 1995 at the Centre for Distance-Spanning Technology (CDT) at Luleå university of Technology, Sweden.

Marratech is much further developed than Dodgeball was when it was bought out by Google, however, and has solid financial backing: 

From developing a successful distance learning solution using the full capabilities offered by broadband internet, we have created a business tool which is now accepted as the technology leader in the e-meeting and web collaboration environment in all sectors of industry, commerce and the professions.
Marratech is being used by companies across the world and has won several industry awards and accolades including the 2001 European IST Prize, awarded by the European Council of Applied Sciences and Engineering (Euro-CASE) with support from the EU's Information Society Technologies Programme.
Marratech's board of directors and senior management includes highly qualified and exceptionally experienced individuals from the IT and communications industries. The company is owned by Swedish mutual funds as well as its employees and founders. It has operations in the United Kingdom, throughout Europe, the USA, Australia and the Far East, plus an extensive and rapidly expanding network of resellers and agents.

So what? Google absorption is no guarantee, of anything, beyond the one-time deal terms. 

After all, where is JotSpot, after last year’s Google buyout of the small application Wiki start-up? 

Joe Kraus, JotSpot co-founder dutifully declared Google is a “nerd’s paradise,” Monday at the Web 2.0 Summit. Nevertheless, such public assertions are meaningless, I heard the Dodgeball team suggest the same publicly in New York City.

The Jotspot.com Website remains unchanged six months after the Google absorption, much as the Dodgeball Website remained in a time-warp following its move to Google servers.

Jotspot still says:

We've closed off new account registrations while we focus on migrating to Google's systems. If you'd like to be notified when we re-open registration, enter your email address. 

The Dodgeball founders got tired of waiting for their Google migration to bear fruits.


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