Is this the start of a mapping war?

Bloomberg West 030415I 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.  

On the latter point, I am seeing a strong industry wide recognition of this:  five years ago we viewed data flow as one directional: from the content to the user.  Now the data that flows from the user back to the service provider is just as critical, whether for developing better routes, tuning search results or developing a better understanding of context. I’m thinking through a post on that topic and would love any thoughts.

It will be interesting to see this evolve.

Longer discussion of my first thoughts on the deal here.