I was on Bloomberg West on March 4, 2015, the day after the acquisition of deCarta by Uber hit the news. Cory Johnson’s opening question (cut off in the video) was “Is this the start of a mapping war?”. It’s a good question and provoked a (hopefully) interesting discussion.
Outside of personal interest (I was employed at deCarta six years ago), the two things that interest me about this deal are that Uber didn’t think that they could differentiate their offering in the way they wanted by using a consumer-oriented map API from Google and that owning the location stack is key to capturing user behavior data. Continue reading
Big news for the day in the geo-world: Uber bought deCarta, the long-time LBS platform company that at times powered the likes of Google, Yahoo!, NIM, TeleNav, TomTom and many more. In their statement, Uber states that they “will continue to fine-tune our products and services that rely on maps — for example UberPOOL, the way we compute ETAs [estimated times of arrival], and others — and make the Uber experience even better for our users.” This is also the first announced acquisition by Uber. Terms were not announced but it is suspected that Uber’s war chest of $5.9B raised remains largely intact.
(Disclaimer: I worked at deCarta six years ago and am a shareholder under non-disclosure. Sorry, no secrets here.) Continue reading
I just added a new recipe on IFTTT that sends me a message whenever someone sends a tweet within a specified radius. They bill it as a neighborhood tweet watch but it could obviously be used to watch for tweets within any area or place. Right now it used a simple point-and-radius geofence but presumably that could be extended into any sort of bounding box.
I mentioned that I’d added this and got a number of responses including a comment from Arjun Ram that suggested that IFTTT’s geo strategy is better than Twitter’s. It raises the question of whether Twitter does in fact have a geo strategy and why they’ve been so slow in doing anything in that area. Continue reading
Before today’s WWDC, there were a lot of hints that there would be some big announcements from Apple on new features for maps as part of the iOS8/Yosemite launch. Most of the speculation was on transit routing, including a pretty detailed review from 9to5Mac, complete with screen shots. So I watched the Tim & Craig show from start to finish, and here’s what I saw: Nothing. Continue reading
I thought that this graphic was pretty funny but it implies that the Microsoft acquisition of Nokia’s handset business is no big deal. That’s not the case. It is a big deal in that these two companies at one time dominated their industries and now they’re struggling to be relevant. It’s a big deal in that it is effectively the end of Nokia as we’ve known it.
It’s not a big deal for me in that I swore many years ago that I’d never buy another Microsoft phone and have no reason to think that will change.
As you might guess, I am more interested in what remains of Nokia, and especially the NAVTEQ/HERE business. I am also interested in why these guys can’t find the Caps Lock key but that’s another blog. Continue reading
Not sure if Microsoft is still going to make a play for Foursquare now with all the Nokia news going on but here was my interview on a possible investment by them in Foursquare.
Waze is turning out to be the media gift that keeps on giving…I was asked to comment on Bloomberg West about the rumored FTC review of Google’s acquisition of Waze; my fourth Waze related interview. Kinda looking forward to talking about something else. The interview is linked here.
As the saying goes, I am not an anti-trust expert; I just play one on TV. I can’t comment on what is or isn’t an anti-trust violation from a legal perspective. From a practical perspective though, I am not convinced that the Waze acquisition turns Google Maps into more of a juggernaut than it already was. Said another way (and as outlined in my last post), Google was already the mapping superpower; adding Waze strengthen that but the fact was pre-existing.
A lot of the anti-trust talk seems to have been started by comments by Waze CEO Noam Bardin at an AllThingsD conference where he said:
“We feel that we’re the only reasonable competition to [Google] in this market of creating maps that are really geared for mobile, for real-time, for consumers — for the new world that we’re moving into.”
Those words are more aspirational than factual.
Removing Waze from the field does not eliminate competition for Google. What it does do is to take a creative alternative off the market; someone who was rethinking the game and aggressively growing a map product that wasn’t a carbon copy of Google but something different, with a different value for the user. Whether Waze could have built themselves into a big competitor or become the baseline for some other acquirer will never be known but that was the potential of Waze.
There are plenty of alternatives, just not many creative alternatives. And that creativity is what’s going to be needed to push Google in this market.
June 17, 2013: In November 1989, the Berlin Wall came down, symbolically ending the Cold War. Two years later, the Soviet Union dissolved, leaving the United States as “the world’s only superpower”. In the decade that followed, no other country could come close to the military power of the U.S.
Notwithstanding, in January, 1997, the US Air Force launched the B-2 bomber, the most advanced military bomber in history. It is capable of penetrating deeply into Soviet airspace…combatting a threat which no longer exists.
I thought of that when Google bought Waze last week.
June 12, 2013: After weeks of rumors, Google finally won the Waze Dot Race, paying an estimated $1B for the Israeli-based traffic start-up. Since Google already has traffic, maps and a team, the move has been described as a “blocking” move; a move to keep Waze out of the hands of Google’s rivals who might want to use it to build competitive service in the mapping, navigation and traffic markets.
If it is a blocking move (and I think that’s a good partial explanation. For more talking head stuff, see here), it begs the question of what precisely are they blocking…what do they want to tie up, away from competitors, that is worth that much money?
What they’re not blocking: The Waze app.