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Uber is buying deCarta, making its first acquisition

Uber will use deCarta to improve its own mapping capabilites, become less reliant on GoogleMaps

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
March 4, 2015
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/3c61

(Updated with confirmation from Uber)

With all of the money that has raised (I'm talking billions in the span of just over a year or so) it's a little surprising to me that Uber has never made any acquisitions. Companies like Google, Yahoo and Facebook are startup happy, gobbling up as many companies as they seemingly can. Uber, not so much.

That might be changing soon, though, now that the company is in the midst of closing its first ever acquisition.

Uber is currently finalizing the purchase of deCarta, a mapping and search company, the company has confirmed to VatorNews. 

The news was broken in a report out from Mashable, which reported that it is expected to close later this week. As per the acquisition, deCarta will remain as an independent service, operating as a subsidiary of Uber. The majority of its employees, 30 out of 40, including CEO and President Kim Fennell, will remain with the company, according to

"A lot of the functionality that makes the Uber app so reliable, affordable and seamless is based on mapping technologies," an Uber spokesperson told VatorNews in a statement. "With the acquisition of deCarta, we will continue to fine-tune our products and services that rely on maps –- for example UberPOOL, the way we compute ETAs, and others – and make the Uber experience even better for our users."

I hesitate to call deCarta a "startup," given that is has been around since 1996. The company provides software platforms that power Internet, mobile, personal navigation and location-based service applications. Its services include local search, geocoding, routing, and a turn-by-turn navigation application.

If any of that sounds familiar, its because that is exactly what GoogleMaps does. And it makes you wonder if Uber is looking to develop its own maps app, which would allow it to, once again, distance itself from Google, though the company will continue to use other mapping technologies, like Google's and Apple's.

Google and Uber have an interesting relationship. Google Ventures, the company's venture capital arm, invested $258 million in Uber in August 2013 and has been a big advocate for the ride-share startup.

The two companies, though, are seemingly going to go head-to-head over the driverless car, with Google having worked on the idea for years, and recent reports indicating that it is now looking to turn them into a fleet of taxis.

Uber, meanwhile, is working on its own self-driving vehicles. The company entered into a strategic partnership with Carnegie Mellon University to create the Uber Advanced Technologies Center, through which it will work on developing that technology.

Only a few months ago, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said that his company had no plans to make any acquisitions. But perhaps he has begun to realize that as Uber goes forward it is going to need to become even more self reliant and much less dependent on Google.

VatorNews has reached out to both Uber and deCarta for confirmation of the acquisition. We will update this story if we learn more. 

(Image source: decarta.com)


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