Cab-on-demand service Uber, which has been growing leaps and bounds in the last couple of years, has taken over a portion of Bing’s mapping assets. The acquisition, which includes around 100 Bing engineers, is an interesting move that shows a coming expansion from the transportation startup.
Uber works by allowing users to automatically post their location through their smartphone app. That location is sent to the nearest Uber driver, who arrive within minutes to drive the user to their necessary location. It is run through GPS mapping, which is crucial for the functionality of the service.
With Bing’s mapping assets under their belt, Uber will be able to better tailor their technology to take on larger scale operations. But most interesting is the acquisition of engineers.
The buyout includes around 100 Bing employees, who will now join the Uber team. This would be both to continue working on the development of the technology, and to properly integrate it with Uber’s current platform.
So, what does this mean, exactly? Microsoft isn’t exactly under dire straights, so this deal wasn’t done out of necessity. Rather, it seems more likely that it is the first step towards a greater collaboration between Uber and Microsoft. With Google announcing their own plans to provide self-driving taxis in the future, this preemptive strike could ensure Uber’s increasing ability to compete in a quickly developing market.
It also keeps Microsoft – which has already dedicated themselves to future tech such as all-in-one device integration and virtual reality – at the head of an industry that so far they have not taken part in.
For consumers, it is good news. Uber is launching in new cities all the time, and it offers a simple and affordable alternative to public transportation. Anyone who has been drunk on a Saturday night knows the risks of taking a train home. But cabs are hard to hail, and cost a pretty penny.
Now with Microsoft putting Bing’s mapping and engineers on the project, it is sure to further expand into new regions and new services. Who knows what they might develop next, especially with Google breathing down their neck, and Lyft trying to bump them from the top?
There is no word yet on the details of this deal, such as the money that might have changed hands. Stay tuned for more information as the story develops.
Update: Uber confirmed the deal
We’re excited about the talent and technology this acquisition brings. Mapping is at the heart of what makes Uber great. So we’ll continue to work with partners, as well as invest in our own technology, to build the best possible experience for riders and drivers.
Update 2: Microsoft also confirmed the deal
Over the past year, we have taken many actions to focus the company’s efforts around our core business strategy. In keeping with these efforts, we will no longer collect mapping imagery ourselves, and instead will continue to partner with premium content and imagery providers for underlying data while concentrating our resources on the core user experience. With this decision, we will transfer many of our imagery acquisition operations to Uber.