Mapbox announced today that they’ve just raised $52.55 million in a Series B round. That gives the company the fuel to continue building out their platform. The investors come with great backgrounds to feed into the growth of the company. But I want to talk about timing.
This round comes at craziest time I have ever seen in the mapping sector, in fact the whole location sector. Every day new bidders surface for Nokia HERE. The investor boards on TomTom are burning up with a knock-on effect. All of this puts a lot of focus on OpenStreetMap, and a lot of focus now on Mapbox, a huge supporter of OSM and user of OSM data.
Buying and selling map companies is back in the news so I am back on Bloomberg. I really enjoyed this interview with Emily Chang and Cory Johnson on Bloomberg West. We covered a lot of ground and they had very good questions. My reference in the title refers to the year both major map companies were acquired, NAVTEQ by Nokia and TeleAtlas by TomTom. My prediction for 2015 (made and witnessed in January) was that 2015 would be a repeat of 2007; both HERE and TomTom Licensing would turn over again. I have high confidence that I will be at least half right and there’s a good chance I will be 100% right. Continue reading
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
Interesting press release out of TomTom today: The Dutch PND and map maker announced that they have “extended (their) location-based services product portfolio with an online turn-by-turn navigation service”. That means that they are adding server-based navigation; a feature that is offered by competitors like Nokia HERE and Google but, until now, not by TomTom. The release also says “In support of this product line extension TomTom has expanded its relationship with deCarta.”
Hmm…that’s a little cryptic. 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.