I was sitting at the breakfast table this morning, drinking a cup of coffee while I looked out at the snow. It was pretty much like any other winter morning, except — it wasn’t. When I went to sleep last night, I was employed by a small start-up called @Last Software. This morning, although I’m going to the same office, sitting at the same desk, and seeing the same people, I’m going to work as a Google employee. (Here’s the official announcement.)

As I sipped my coffee, I thought of a fellow I met on the last day of Macworld in January. It was six minutes before the end of the show when he walked into our booth. He had never seen SketchUp before. I started to give him a demo to give him an idea of what the software can do and how it works. Two or three minutes in, he interrupted me. “Can I buy a copy of SketchUp now?” I said sure. Then: “How about two?” No problem, I said.

It’s often like that. People see SketchUp and they love it. Now that we’re part of Google, how many of those ah-ha moments will happen every day? Already we’ve had hundreds of users create 3D content in SketchUp and place their models in Google Earth. (A free plug-in enables you to do this.) What will that virtual world look like when tens of thousands of users are doing the same?

Our little company was founded six years ago with the grand vision of bringing 3D to everyone; now that goal is truly within reach. No second cup of coffee for me — contemplating the possibilities is exciting enough.

Sketchup already has a plug in that allows you to export 3D models into Google Earth. If you've got Google Earth (you do, right?), then check out a few 3D examples (these are KMZ files):

Statue of Liberty
SketchUp headquarters
Google Mountain View campus

It costs $495, but we’d like everyone to have a SketchUp experience, so you can download a free 8-hour trial version here.