Did dodgeball Even Have a Chance?

The founding developers of dodgeball.com have left google for good. I guess free food and a nice banner over your cubicle is not enticing enough to keep the entrepreneurial types satisfied. Twitter and dodgeball look like a tale of two cities on the surface but lets be realistic. Dodgeball was on the scene a long, long time and had plenty of opportunity to gain traction. Was dodgeball the twitter that could have been? I don’t think so.

Basically, dodgeball is a location-based social networking site for mobiles. You register, register your friends, and then “hook up” with others in your extended network. I’ll admit that the idea is enticing but it’s also why it didn’t succeed.

Let’s recap:

  1. It’s geography-based
  2. You’re not going to hook up with a friend of a friend in LA if you’re based in Brooklyn.
  3. It’s tied to a platform
  4. You basically hook up with someone in your area via a text message. Although there’s obviously a web interface, it’s main function is as a mobile application.
  5. It’s only for hooking up
  6. The main focus is for using it to “hook up” with friends. Now how often is that going to happen? What’s stopping you from flat out spamming 10 friends directly via SMS if you’re about town and want to grab drinks?

So basically, it looks great on paper but they’ve narrowed their audience so much that it’s hard for them branch out and grow. Why’s everyone on twitter? Now, it’s because everyone’s on twitter but when the service launched nobody knew what the hell it was for. Most people ignored it. But then it started catching fire.

The beauty of twitter is that you can use it for anything from anything. You can twitter from your phone, the web, IM, and many more. You can use it as an IM, mini-blog, social network, or newsletter among other things. Yet twitter doesn’t even have a decent splash page telling you what it’s about. People figured it out for themselves and each person uses it just a little differently. It’s simple and yet diverse.

Having said that, would dodgeball have been better off not getting acquired? I think so. These guys suffered a lot under a corporate bureaucracy. Shocking that it was Google but since when did multi-billion companies act otherwise? Too bad the founders didn’t see the light earlier and just take the money and run. I’m sure this bitter experience will fuel their desire to succeed and this time they wont make the same mistake.