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[March 15, 2006]

@Last gets 'Googled'

(Daily Camera (Boulder, CO) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Mar. 15--Google's reach just got a little closer to home.

The Internet search giant on Tuesday confirmed it acquired Boulder-based @Last Software for an undisclosed sum. The local company, which sells a 3-D design software product called SketchUp, first made the announcement on its Web site.

"'What's New? Well, about the biggest thing ever: we've been Googled,'" wrote Brad Schell, who co-founded @Last with Joe Esch in 1999, on the site.

During a phone interview Tuesday, there was audible enthusiasm in Schell's voice.

"It's something that you never imagined in your wildest dreams," he said. "I'm at a loss for words. It feels like we're starting over again. There's just so much possibility and so much opportunity. It's just an exciting ride."

Schell said his company still will be based in Boulder, but will adopt the Google name.

Lynn Fox, a Google spokeswoman, confirmed this deal was the Mountain View, Calif.-based company's first entrance into the Boulder market. Fox declined further comment.

@Last's relationship with Google (Nasdaq: GOOG, $351.16) started last summer, when engineering teams from the two companies collaborated on incorporating the SketchUp software with Google Earth, a mapping service that incorporates satellite imagery, some of which is provided by Longmont-based DigitalGlobe's QuickBird satellite.

"Google very much shares our vision that at the end of the day, we're about making 3-D as accessible as possible to as many people as we can," Schell said.

Accessibility was the intention from the start for SketchUp. While the core users are in the architectural, engineering and contractor markets, Schell said users range from schoolchildren to film companies to game designers.

"We really wanted to have people like it and have it resonate with them," he said. "And I got to tell you ... it worked."

In six years, the company has grown to 70 employees and now has offices in London and Germany. In an interview last year, Schell said SketchUp's sales were expected to grow from 2004's $5.5 million to $12.6 million in 2005. Citing the acquisition, Schell said he could not disclose @Last's financial information.

"It'd be awfully hard for us to sell this thing if it weren't going anywhere but up," he said.

Tuesday's news is positive, not only for Google and @Last, but those in the architecture, engineering and construction industries as well, said Randall S. Newton, editor of AECnews.com, a trade news source. The financial and technological backing will be a boost for the SketchUp software, he said.

"I don't think it'll be a giant jump for (@Last)," Newton said. "It's just going to be a faster rate of steady growth."

Newton said he had not heard how much the deal was worth, but guessed it was in the $15 million to $30 million range.

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