Could the geolocation wars be the next browser wars? Maybe. There's a fresh $8.4 million in venture funding for Gowalla, a game-like mobile app that lets you "check in" to locations around the world, see where your friends are, and swap virtual goods along the way.
The Series B funding round, announced Wednesday, is led by Greylock Partners with contributions from Shasta Ventures, Maples Investments, previous investors Alsop-Louie Partners and Founders Fund, and individual investors Ron Conway, Kevin Rose, Gary Vaynerchuk, Shervin Pishevar, Jason Calacanis, and Chris Sacca.
Interestingly, at least two of Gowalla's individual investors--Conway and Rose--are also investors in Foursquare, another game-like "geo" app that lets you find your friends and collect "badges." And at least four of them--Conway, Rose, Sacca, and Vaynerchuk--have additionally backed location software company SimpleGeo, whose funding CNET first reported late last month.
This either means that there are some well-moneyed people in Silicon Valley who throw greenbacks around blindfolded, or that some prominent folks think there's room for more than one "geo" app out there.
Regardless of where the investment money goes, it's clear that geolocation is, after many tries and missteps, finally one of the hottest spots on the Web. Early players like Loopt and Brightkite are still around and kicking, but Foursquare and Gowalla's game-like interfaces have proven more press-friendly these days--not to mention more addictive among hardcore users.
Gowalla, available as an app on the iPhone and Android, was founded in 2007 but formally launched ten weeks ago (its iPhone app has been around since last spring). The company says it now has 50,000 users in 92 countries and logs 20,000 "check-ins" every day.
Foursquare, which launched at the South by Southwest Interactive Festival in March and which is rolling out its launch in packs of cities, says it has 146,000 registered users who have logged 3.4 million check-ins.
This post was updated at 10:47 a.m. PT with data from Foursquare.