Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Gowalla's Josh Williams Talks About Phony Geolocation "Wars" and More!

Last week, BoomTown had a very dulcet tea-fueled meeting with Josh Williams, the affable CEO and co-founder of Gowalla, one of the leading location-based mobile status-updating start-ups that seem to have sprouted up everywhere.

And while a lot of hyperactive blogging is being done in this still very nascent arena about how an all-out geolocation war is going on, it’s mostly just the smoke from overfunding going on in the hopes of finding the next Facebook-Twitter nexus.

Indeed, Austin, Texas-based Gowalla has raised over $10 million from such high-profile investors as Ron Conway, as well as from top-notch Silicon Valley venture firms, while its main rival, Foursquare, is now deciding which VC pocket it will pick at what insane valuation.

Both are attracting a lot of attention and consumers interested in the fad and eager to try out their innovative services.

Still, even if it all comes to naught financially, the combination of mobile, location, status and social networking is actually intriguing to both investors and, for now, consumers–even if Gowalla ends up getting bought by a larger fish such as Facebook someday soon.

As to business plans? Everything from loyalty plans to advertising to couponing is mentioned, but let’s be honest: None of these start-ups has any real idea of what will stick.

Until they figure it out, here’s a video interview I did with Williams, who talks about the competition, the differences among the various services, where it’s all headed (and how the Gowalla name was, yes, made up):


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik