Plazes Raises $3.5M

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.

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