Ride-Sharing Startup Via Acquires Citymapper

Rebecca Bellan and Ingrid Lunden, reporting for TechCrunch:

Last month, when transportation startup Via raised $110 million at a $3.5 billion valuation, CEO Daniel Ramot said it planned to make acquisitions to grow its transportation technology stack. Now, a piece of that strategy is falling into place: today the company is announcing its acquisition of Citymapper, the London startup that produces a popular urban mapping app.

I always loved Citymapper. When it came out, it offered a better experience for public-transport routing than Google Maps. I remember moving to London, and Citymapper was a lifesaver; I could not imagine how anyone would navigate the city without it.

But then, I never understood how they were making money—if any. Citymapper offers memberships, which enable additional routing modes, but I don’t think bus-only routing convinces many people to pay for the service. They also sold public-transport passes in London at discounted rates and, more recently, the app’s free tier contained ads. This acquisition is about talent and technology rather than removing a competitor from the field.