The SoftBank-backed developer, Mapbox, has recently announced that it has acquired developers from Mapzen’s Valhalla Project to attempt to bolster its navigation toolkits. Mapbox has been competing with companies like Google Maps, TomTom, and Here. They hope that this acquisition will cement their position amongst these companies. The acquisition was made when MapZen was winding down and Mapbox could acquire the developers in-house at a bargain price. Eric Gunderson, chief executive of Mapbox, said that the company took advantage of the long-term relationship they had with the developers as soon as the project started sliding south.
Both companies have been working on the Valhalla project for quite some time, but Mapbox’s developers had been collaborating with the team behind the project for more than a year. Both companies know how important mapping is to self-driving cars and it can power a wide range of services and advertisements on mobile devices. Last year Mapbox raised about $164 million from SoftBank so that they can become a serious competitor against Google Maps and Here in the self-driving and AR arena and it worked. Many companies already use the Mapbox SDK for their apps. These companies include Airbnb, Snap, and MasterCard.
Last year Mapbox also bought Mapdata, an emerging mapping technology company and when asked about the purchase of Mapzen’s developers, Gunderson emphasized what he said about the previous acquisition. He stated that the company has 900 000 developers using Mapbox’s SDK in different products and all of that data is being fed to Mapbox to further improve their navigational tools. This led to the innovation behind the Valhalla toolkit. It doesn’t pre-compute direction like other routing services but rather computes routes in real-time. This improves efficiency in companies that need it.
This type of technology is beneficial to delivery companies, ride-sharing companies, and logistics companies. The faster a passenger is dropped off or delivery is finalized, the faster another one can be picked up. It generates more money and saves time. Gunderson further stated that the world we are living in is changing and picking up the pace which is why there need to be constant reliable sensors out there. He mentioned that Mapbox allows app developers to keep the data, unlike Google and Waze where the data belongs to the company. All Mapbox wants is the anonymized location.
Gunderson explained that the anonymized location is used to extract latitude and longitude which they stitch back into the network by using the sensor network ie. your phone. This means that through the SDK, Mapbox has more sensors on the road than any other mapping company. He said that it is going to have immediate benefits for some of their OEM customers because of the turn-by-turn directions, real-time traffic updates, and a more lightweight footprint. The company is also proud of the fact that the data transfer from devices is faster and it is customizable. This ensures a unique experience for every user.
January 4, 2018