Kevin Warnock paid $500 to a guy in Russia to buy the goffice.com URL. He changed the name of his online office suite Silveroffice to gOffice, and officially rolled out a free version, with some ad support, in July of 2005. The gOffice name, catching some of the Google aura, hasn't done much good for Warnock. His fledgling product has been surpassed by Zoho, ThinkFree, JotSpot and now Google Docs and Spreadsheets. gOffice has about 48,000 users, Warnock told me, with a small portion paying 99 cents month for the service. And, the elephant in the room Google doesn't seem to care about the existence of Warnock's gOffice, despite the emergence of the bits and pieces of its native Goffice with Google Docs and Spreadsheets, Gmail, GTalk, Calendar, Google Reader and a presentation application to be named later.
When Google Spreadsheets debuted in June of this year, Warnock decided to it was time to send out the olive branch, even though he had no contact with Google other than a brief call during the company's hunt for a document processor, which ended with acquisition of Writely in March.
On June 6, he FedExed a letter to Eric Schmidt, Sergey Brin and Larry Page offering to give the URL to Google...for free. The only caveat was that Google use the URL to brand its office suite and not as a redirect to another name/URL. Warnock also has trademarks pending in the U.S. and Europe for the gOffice mark, and didn't receive any objections from Google to his applications during the comment periods. Warnock told me it would great to get some money from Google for his $500 URL purchase at this juncture, but he would still do the deal for free.
You have to wonder why Google wouldn't take Warnock up on his generous offer, and at least give him a T-shirt. If the terms don't meet Google's liking, they could sweeten the pot with a tote bag.
The Googlers are certainly aware of Warnock's treading on the Google brand. I get the sense that Google wants to stay away from acknowledging that it has an office suite, a gOffice or more accurately Goffice, as if it won't be perceived as competing directly with Microsoft. Nonsense. Google may not be competing head on with Microsoft for the enterprise desktop, but every other part of the market is wide open for an Office 2.0 that is built from the ground up for sharing, collaboration and the Web, and very low cost compared to Microsoft Office. You can be sure that Microsoft is super focused, as BillG would say, on building a Live Office, and when the time is right will massively market it, despite the hit to the company's traditional business model. Maybe a strong move by Microsoft will stimulate Google to take up Warnock on his offer. Of course, there is nothing wrong will "Google Office" instead of "Goffice." In the meantime, Warnock plans to keep serving his customers.