On Leaving Mapbox After Twelve Years

Saman Bemel Benrud, previously a designer at Mapbox, reflects on his time at the company. It’s a tale of what happens when a company accepts big VC money. The priorities shift from solving relevant problems to making money.

Even if you’re a lowly designer or engineer, you must understand what your company needs to do to be sustainable. It very likely is different from what they’re doing now, and may come with unexpected ethical compromises.

What other choices do companies have when they build geo-data products and compete with Google? Maybe they can grow slower, don’t sell solutions that aren’t yet available, involve employees in decisions, or accept and support unionisation efforts. The company still has to make money, but it might feel different to the people building the product. There must be a way to build a sustainable business that doesn’t involve VC funding.