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Summary:

Location-based social mapping startup Plazes says it has raised €2.7 million ($3.5 million) from Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures in its first institutional equity round of financing. Last year the company, which says it is based in Zurich and Berlin, had raised seed investment from some well […]

Location-based social mapping startup Plazes says it has raised €2.7 million ($3.5 million) from Doughty Hanson Technology Ventures in its first institutional equity round of financing. Last year the company, which says it is based in Zurich and Berlin, had raised seed investment from some well known tech angels like Esther Dyson, Marc Andreessen and Martin Varsavsky. I’m a bit of a junkie for these social mapping startups like Platial, Flagr, or Frappr — how they are going to make money is another story.

Liz and I actually talked to Plazes way back in mid 2005, when we were researching LBS startups, and the company launched its site in August 2004 as a sort of a fun research project. Even then the startup had won over a few thousand early adopters by opening its API and quickly integrating with Google Maps. The startup’s release this morning puts the founding date at December 2005, and a Plazes spokesperson says that’s the date when the site was founded as a business — before then the company hadn’t run the site “professionally or for money reasons.”

Plazes says in its release that Adaptive Path is working on the next release of plazes.com, and a quick check of the Plazes blog shows the company has been adding features over the past few months like new SMS services, Google Earth integration and widgets.

Social mapping, where users can “geotag” photos, text and video with location data and pin this info to an online interactive map, is a small but growing trend. Ubiquitous broadband networks and mobile devices that can determine location data, coupled with the rise of user-generated digital content and widely available online maps have come together to create this geotagging trend. Last year even Yahoo and Flickr got on the bandwagon and added geotagging with a drag-n-drop interface with Yahoo maps.

  1. That is pretty nifty…

    What would make me REALLY happy would be a social network “tracker”. For example, people could upload their MySpace friends list and share their location (and vice-versa). I should then be able to install a simple Java tracker on my cell or PDA so that all of my friends know where I’m at (again, and vice-versa) locally, without me having to send text message updates.

    Perhaps not feasible, but it would be pretty damn awesome! (hint to Facebook and MySpace!)

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  2. I believe I am more interested in mapping and GPS and LBS than the normal person, but I still struggle with sites like Plazes, Wayfaring, and Platial. I have tried using the former 2 repeatedly, but my interest eventually peters out after a week or two. The problem for ME is, once you have your map, and a few places put into it, maybe some pics – then what? I’m never sure what to DO with my map. Should I post it on my blog? People don’t tend to show each other maps very often, which is what these sites make so easy. I feel like I get more from a blog post with a nice picture or two, than these maps. It seems to me that perhaps like Om points out for Social Networks, these are more of a Feature than a stand alone product. Put maps on a mountain biking site, sharing trails, put them on store site showing locations, that sort of stuff. But as a standalone, it’s hard, for ME at least, to get excited about them, until something happens like what Robert asks – a good solid something to DO with the maps!

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  3. ron: plazes is not so much about building your maps than about physical presence. it is about checking in and out to these plazes and building your geo-profile as you go. plazes ties in with tools you use like skype or flickr and adds locaiton to these services. the widget for your social network profile or blog will actually show your current location. so you can´t quite compare plazes with the companies you mentioned.

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  4. Thought you’d like to know it looks like Plazes also just won the Mobile Monday Global Peer Award at 3GSM:

    http://peerawards.mobilemonday.net/

    http://mobilesociety.typepad.com/mobilelife/2007/02/3gsmmobilemond.html

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  5. Another geotagging startup, ourglobes.com in action:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B0uBAQUPfSg

    i think sites such as these will eventually be where the flow of media for social networks ends up…its all about speed, accuracy and ease of sharing communication, isn’t it?

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  6. [...] map mashup start-ups including Platial, Frappr, Flagr and Plazes, to name a few — that have raised millions of dollars in venture [...]

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  7. [...] map mashup start-ups including Platial, Frappr, Flagr and Plazes, to name a few — that have raised millions of dollars in venture [...]

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  8. [...] of map mashup start-ups including Platial, Frappr, Flagr and Plazes, to name a few — that have raised millions of dollars in venture [...]

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  9. [...] one app that looks particularly interesting is the iPhone Plazer, from London-based social mapping startup Plazes, a company whose products I occasionally use. The app, which will be downloadable from the iPhone, [...]

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  10. ur forgetting about Schmap.com!

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