Microsoft, which operates the Bing maps service, will no longer collect mapping imagery. The company has sold to alternative cab company Uber the cameras it used to collect that image data, as well as a data center near Boulder, Colorado and the 100 engineers who worked on Bing maps.
Uber and Microsoft both confirmed the deal to VentureBeat. TechCrunch originally reported the deal today.
Fast-growing Uber clearly has money to work with. Uber is committing at least $10 million per year just to hire the engineers, assuming that each of them had a $100,000 salary — a conservative estimate — from Microsoft. The acquisition comes after a report last month about Uber bidding as much as $3 billion for Nokia’s Here mapping and navigation business. Uber last month was reported to be trying to raise between $1.5 billion and $2 billion in a new funding round that would value the company at or above $50 billion.
Microsoft, meanwhile, is regularly trying to refine its focus. Last week Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella declared that in an email to employees that the global technology company’s mission “is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.” The memo called out several Microsoft products by name, including Windows, HoloLens, Xbox, and the Microsoft cloud. Nadella did not name-drop the Bing maps service. And that’s interesting.
“Over the past year, we have taken many actions to focus the company’s efforts around our core business strategy,” Microsoft said in a statement provided to VentureBeat in an email. “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.”