Google Buys SketchUp


Google continues to buy up tiny start-ups, building its software arsenal and adding to its engineering ranks. They have just snapped-up Sketch Up, a tiny six-year old start-up that makes some sort of 3D software. I have never heard of them, which is my bad, but apparently the Mac people think it is the shizzle. Here is company’s own take on the deal. (Can someone explain what Google will do with this?)

Update: Greg Sterling says its all about maps. “When you get rich 3-D mapping up and running on the Internet there are all kinds of use cases and ad opportunities. Think about real estate or hotels/travel as two immediate examples that come to mind,” he writes.

Update # 2: Looks like some of the readers were spot on. Google is now working with Volkswagen and developing 3D maps for car navigation systems.

The system, based on the Google Earth program, is expected to allow three dimensional depictions of routes, the newspaper says, quoting VW. The system is also expected to draw from online sources for real-time traffic and weather information to aid drivers.




I just want to see who they buy the avatars from, and how they rework the Sims gameplay…

I also look forward to the day I take a turn into everyCity’s Diagon Alley, and wander down a virtual highstreet with links into real online stores…



Om, maybe you need to tweak the layout of this page? Some people think I’m the one suggesting that you leave the country, which I’m not. People: The name of the poster is under the comment.

David C

I would suggest that in addition any synergies, Google may also want a home base in Boulder, which has a pretty good talent pool and is a place good engineers like to be located.


a complete 3D Google Earth would be the most amazing thing … to have that same technology when you are trying to figure out where a local store or restaurant is located is even cooler. if you can see the layout of a club or restaurant, it might help you decide if you want to go there or not.

Rajat Gopal

Here’s my take on this deal – we will soon see a GPS auto navigation device rendering 3-D maps of the road and the surroundings based on Google Earth.


hey mr.oyvind… if u dont want to read it why dont u visit something like and stick with it… dont waste someone elses bandwidth


dude its a blog, calm down, did you know its optional to read.


malik, we are growing tired of your industry ‘advice’. my advice is to get the fuck out of this country before its too late.


They’ll make 1) 3D ads 2) An awesome car navigation system (with ads I’d guess) and 3) Better content for Google Earth. More on my site…


i first saw sketchup at the in-q-tel conference in early 2004 (keyhole was another presenter) and fell in love. the tool is a joy, esp for non-designer designers. Maybe it’s cheaper to Google to buy sketchup than drive lidar vans around the world mapping buildings for the sake of Google Earth? I could cook up a decent rendering of the Empire State Building in about 40 mins, and don’t need a laser or an SUV.

Jon Gales

I hope they make SketchUp free or discount it… It’s an amazing program, but I don’t have $500 to spend on something to draw with in my spare time. Since it’s so easy to use you don’t need to be a professional artist or builder to master it. But you need a bank roll.

David C

Also, sketchup (@Last Software, actually) is not really “tiny”, they’re about 50 people (more or less) and have a nice following for their product in several verticals.

David C

It’s all about the google earth plug in (so far), a neat way to draw things on top of “the earth”. My office is about a block from Sketchup here in Boulder, and I’ve worked with 4 or 5 of those folks before, and, well, they seem pretty darn excited (obviously). Play with the earth plug in, it’s pretty slick.


this is huge, the google earth plugin is a given.
I think another reason would be to use it in their “online office suite” like photoshop but, writely style.

What would be cool, take photos of places, plug it in to picasa, convert using sketchup plugin, upload them to an community google map, which would create a “streetview” style map. or maybe something via your cell phone like the yahoo-nokia-flickr-tag thing.

Randhir Reddy

They’d use this even in the GPS Navigation system, they’re working with VW. This is a Good fit.

Om Malik

sure, it is… but it is a tiny company. and still a start-up. it was a tongue in cheek comment :-)


Is this the first time Google bought a company outside of the Bay area besides dmarc? I bet this is a bigger deal than it seems – just like Keyhole turned into Google Earth. Someone must know the story. Who’s behind SketchUp?


My guess,
google will release nice easy to use plugins for everyone to build their own houses on 3D.. this could be huge for places like malls, where lets say i want to see the apple store in woodfield mall, i type in and i go through the roof to see the actual store…


Hopefully Google will make it free to encourage people to continue making buildings on Google Earth

Mark Leichliter

Sketch-Up is a true rarity among 3d softwares: it is actually easy to use. It’s also available for both Mac and Windows, so it’s not just Mac people (of which I’m one) who find it the “shizzle”. As to what Google will do with it, I’m hoping the answer is absolutely nothing — if they screw up this program, heads will roll.


Perhaps google will use the company’s 3d rendering knowledge to make the google maps completely 3d, ala what MS live released a few weeks ago?

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