Facebook, Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) acquired Swedish mapping startup Mapillary as it steps up efforts to compete against Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in grown mapping. The acquisition will help Facebook reinforce the quality of maps it offers on its platforms. The startup has built a street-level imagery platform using photos uploaded by members. Using computer vision software, the company builds a database of real images like traffic signs and road markings. This data is used by map builders to build accurate maps.
The proposed acquisition was first announced by Jan Erik Solem, a co-founder, and CEO. The terms of the deal are yet to be disclosed.
“From day one of Mapillary, we have been committed to building a global street-level imagery platform that allows everyone to get the imagery and data they need to make better maps,” wrote Solem. He added that the company will leverage the tens of thousands of contributor on its platform to a robust street-level imagery platform.
Mapillary has managed to raise significant capital
According to startup tracker Crunchbase, Mapillary raised $24.5 million from investors in a span of seven years. The startup has raised capital from venture capitals like BMW iVentures, Atomico, and Sequoia Capital. Apples and Google are the major players in street-level mapping, while Facebook relies on maps for products like Facebook Marketplace that allow businesses connect with customers in their locality.
Facebook is working with mapping communities to improve its maps using a mix of machine learning and satellite imagery. Mapillary’s platform will still be accessible to users to continue uploading imagery. Users will also be able to use map data from the platform. The platform will also be accessible to commercial users.
Facebook buys AR startup
In early February, Facebook spent around $40 million to acquire Scape Technologies, a UK augmented reality (AR) startup in a move aimed at cementing its position mapping of the physical world. Scape Technologies specializes in creation of 1:1 digital representation of the physical world. This makes it both a mapping start up and an AR company.