Strava, the activity tracking and social community platform used by more than 100 million people globally, has acquired Fatmap, a European company building a global, high-resolution 3D mapping platform for the great outdoors. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Founded in 2009, Strava has emerged as one of the preeminent activity tracking services, proving particularly popular with cycling and running fraternities that use the Strava app to plot routes, talk to fellow athletes, and log their every act for posterity via GPS. The company has been increasingly targeting hikers, too, and last year launched a new trail and sport option aimed at walkers, mountain bikers, and trail riders.
Fatmap, for its part, was founded a decade ago, with an initial focus on providing ski resorts with high-resolution digital maps. In the intervening years, the company has worked with several satellite and aerospace companies to enhance its platform with detailed maps that include peaks, rivers, passes, trails, igloos, and more, arming anyone venturing into mountainous terrain with the information they need to know exactly what they’ll encounter before they arrive.
With 1.6 million registered users, Fatmap’s mission is, ultimately, to be the Google Maps of the great outdoors, with a premium subscription ($30 per year) that gives access to additional features like downloadable maps and route planning in the mobile app.
The ultimate long-term goal for Strava is to integrate the core Fatmap platform into Strava itself, but this will be a resource-intensive endeavor that won’t happen overnight. Which is why Strava is building a single sign-on (SSO) integration in the near term, which means that subscribers will be able to access Fatmap’s full feature set by logging into the Fatmap app with their Strava credentials.
While Strava and Fatmap will remain separate products for now, Strava said it will decide in the future whether Fatmap will live as a standalone product once the technical integration occurs.
The acquisition of Fatmap is part of Strava’s “continued investment to provide a best-in-class digital experience” for those seeking an active lifestyle, said CEO and co-founder Michael Horvath, who resigned in 2013 before returning as president six years later.
“Where other map platforms are designed for navigating streets and cities, Fatmap has built a map specifically designed to help people explore the outdoors,” Horvath told TechCrunch in a Q&A. “We will enable Fatmap technology across all Strava services, enabling anyone to discover and plan an outdoor experience with curated local guides, points of interest, and safety information.”
In terms of timescales, Strava said it has built a dedicated team tasked with integrating Fatmap, and expects this to start rolling out within Strava from around mid-2023. The company was also quick to confirm that the Fatmap technology will be available to both free and paid Strava members, though Certain features related to mapping, discovery, and route planning will be reserved for paying subscribers.
Strava has provided TechCrunch with the following mockup images to give an idea of what a Fatmap might look like inside a future incarnation of Strava.
Strava has raised north of $150 million in funding since its inception, with big backers including esteemed Silicon Valley investor Sequoia Capital, but the company hasn’t been involved in much acquisition activity in its 14-year history. Strava acquired injury prevention app Recover Athletics last May for an undisclosed number, and today we learned that Strava also purchased online sports community Prokit in 2021, something Strava hadn’t officially announced at the time.
Obviously, the proprietary 3D mapping technology Fatmap developed would have taken a lot of time and resources for Strava to replicate itself from scratch, which is why buying Fatmap outright would probably make more sense in this case.
“Strava’s primary goal is for the digital experience to be at the center of active people’s lives — and that includes offering people a holistic view of their active lifestyle, no matter where they live, the sport they love or the device they use,” said Horvath. “This concept feeds into much of our strategic thinking and product roadmap. For acquisitions specifically, we are exploring those that can accelerate our strategic vision to create the best subscription service for active people serving the largest active community in the world.”
While Fatmap is founded in the UK and has part of its workforce there, the bulk of its 50 employees are spread across offices in France, Germany and Lithuania. It’s keeping the Fatmap team in tact, Strava said, and each will continue to report to Fatmap founder and CEO Misha Gopaul, who will now serve as Strava’s vice president of product and report to Strava’s chief product and technology officer Steve Lloyd.
While Strava didn’t disclose how much it paid for Fatmap, the startup has raised around $30 million* in financing, including a as-yet-undisclosed $16.5 million round it said closed in early 2020 from 83 North, P101 and the European Space Agency (ESA). So while the price of this deal could comfortably be in the 9-figure range, having Fatmap on board would likely make Strava a more stable offering to more people — and not just the cycling and running for which it’s better known.
*An earlier version of this article reported that Fatmap has raised about $8 million in funding to date.
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