Mapbox raises $164M to expand its location platform to cars, VR, AR and Asia

Mapbox, the mapping and location platform for developers, today announced a $164 million Series C funding round led by the SoftBank Vision Fund, with participation from existing investors including Foundry Group, DFJ Growth, DBL Partners, and Thrive Capital.

The Series C round takes the total amount raised by Mapbox to about $228 million. Mapbox is not disclosing its valuation, but at its last round (in 2015) it was valued at around $203 million according to PitchBook. This means that at a minimum it’s valued at around $370 million with this round, but I’m guessing it’s closer to $400 million – $500 million post money with this latest investment. We’ll continue to ask around.

This is the latest investment to come out of the Softbank Vision Fund — the monster funding vehicle from Japan’s tech giant that has been investing hundreds of millions since last summer into growth rounds for several other businesses. Others in this round include existing investors Foundry Group, DFJ Growth, DBL Partners, and Thrive Capital, who were all involved in the startup’s last round of $52.6 million two years ago.

Mapbox provides developers and businesses with maps, location search, and direction services that are specific to mobile, AR/VR, and web applications. Developers leverage Mapbox services across mobile devices, connected cars, and broader IoT projects.

Mapbox’s business to date has seen the company move into dozens of apps and sites, providing an open source-based alternative (initially based on Open Street Maps) to more proprietary offerings such as those from Google, Here (once owned by Nokia and now owned by a car consortium) and TomTom. To date, there are some 300 million people using services that are powered by Mapbox.

But with smartphone growth slowing, many are looking at what the next frontier of location will be, which might not involve working with maps per se but requiring location-based data to power other services and devices across the Internet of Things.

Mapbox has been one of them. Last year, the company made its first foray into automotive with the launch of Mapbox Drive, an SDK for autonomous cars. Eric Gunderson, the startup’s founder and CEO, tells us looking beyond smartphones for other applications for maps and location technology was one of the reasons why the company clicked with Softbank.

In addition to looking at new areas in IoT, Mapbox plans to use the funding to build out a new automotive unit, which will see Mapbox’s location tech tailored for in-car navigation and autonomous driving systems and working with computer vision systems.

Another area will be working more in gaming and “mixed” reality, for example growing the company’s work with the Unity SDK. “So much of the map is going to fade into the background,” Gundersen said.

 

Partly by way of Softbank’s reach into Asia, Mapbox also plans to expand there.

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