Uber will invest almost $500 million in a global mapping project hoping to reduce its dependence on Google Maps, a Financial Times report said Sunday.
After raising billions of dollars from investors, Uber is looking at improving its technologies adding an ambitious geomapping project and driverless cars to its list of innovations. Uber has decided to invest $500 million in mapping stepping up its efforts to compete in the geomapping space, a person familiar with the company's plans told Financial Times. The report added that Google has also increased the fee it charges to use Google Maps.
On July 19, DigitalGlobe announced a partnership with Uber allowing the San Francisco-based company to use DigitalGlobe’s satellite imaging technology.
The ride-hailing company also hired developer Brian McClendon last year. McClendon previously ran Google Maps and is considered an expert in digital mapping.
In a statement published on July 27, McClendon said, “The ongoing need for maps tailored to the Uber experience is why we’re doubling down on our investment in mapping. Last year we put mapping cars on the road in the United States. This summer they hit the road in Mexico.”
He added that Uber’s project is similar to those undertaken by Apple and TomTom, a Dutch company that provides navigation and mapping products. “Accurate maps are at the heart of our service and the backbone of our business,” he said.
Uber raised $3.5 billion from Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, the main investment fund in the kingdom when it turned 6 in June this year. The company is valued at $62.5 billion with the Saudi investment reportedly being Uber’s largest investment from a single investor. Also, a $35 billion merger deal between Uber and its biggest competitor in China, Didi Chuxing, is expected to be announced as early as Monday, reports said. As part of the deal, Didi is said to invest $1 billion in Uber at a $68 billion valuation while the latter will become the largest shareholder in the Chinese company.