Five Stupidest Startups of the Summer

Nick Douglas · 08/21/07 10:25PM

Get paid fifty cents to use our social network! Put speech bubbles on photos! The latest dot-coms to raise their ugly heads from the dirt have jankier value propositions than a hooker named Ethel. Thanks to the bloggers' occupational hazard of unsolicited site invitations, Valleywag has seen the web's dumbest dot-com startups of the summer. Let us commence to mock.

Aaaaand it's dead.

Nick Douglas · 04/25/07 11:42PM

NICK DOUGLAS — [UPDATE: It's alive! Dodgeball is the Terry Schiavo of Web 2.0!] Sometimes a product just dies, horribly and suddenly, as if it were unlucky enough to be under a falling piano, stepping into an empty elevator shaft, getting smacked upside the head with a very large rock. It seems that's the fate of Dodgeball, the text-based find-your-friends-at-the-bar service that Google bought in 2005 and promptly abandoned. As of today, the front page is just a "502 server error" (a friend tells me that means the backend server, which actually handles page requests, is dead).

Dodgeball founder quits Google; will Google kill the service?

Nick Douglas · 04/16/07 03:00AM

NICK DOUGLAS — Dennis Crowley announced Sunday night that he's left Google. (His friend Andrew Krucoff scooped him.) The Dodgeball founder said that the company had never given his team the resources they needed to maintain and expand the location-texting service. "The whole experience was incredibly frustrating," he wrote on a group blog. Crowley posted the same story on Flickr, where he also commented that he and co-Dodgeballer Alex Rainert left "regardless" of their Google stock (or options) vesting schedule. "Regardless"? Ha! Google bought Dodgeball 23 months ago. One would assume his contract made him stay two years to collect a stock or options bonus, and Crowley can't be dumb enough to walk away one month before payday. Assume he and Rainert got their money's worth out of these dreary two years — and they sure deserved it, having to sit back and watch startups Twitter and Jaiku take over the group-messaging field. The next question is, will Google shutter Dodgeball? (Photo: Dennis Crowley)