How Factual’s Deal With Uber Will Improve Location Analytics For Both Companies

Uber is rapidly building up its own location technology to develop delivery on-demand and self-driving cars as it moves away from reliance on Google.

Uber is working with geo-data specialist Factual to enhance the location intelligence its been building up in-house for the past year.

The deal gives Uber to access to Factual’s Global Places, which covers 95 million local businesses and points of interest in 50 countries. The data includes multiple attributes for each place including name, address, phone number, latitude and longitude (geocode), and category, among other location-based attributes.

Location Data’s Two-Way Street

“Uber, with operations in more than 400 cities in nearly 70 countries and services across both passenger ridesharing and product delivery, has a particularly high bar with respect to data needs and requirements,” said Bill Michels, Factual’s SVP Product and Partnerships, in a blog post. “This partnership validates Factual’s relentless focus on building high quality data and the value of a data stack that has the ability to synthesize billions of pieces of information from millions of different sources into clean structured data and update the data in real-time.”

Interestingly, the deal is a two-way street (so to speak): Under the terms of the agreement, place-based edits generated by Uber will be provided back to Factual, thereby improving the quality of the Global Places data the businesses who use that system, including Apple and Facebook, receive. Facebook recently expanded its alliance with the Los Angeles-based geo-data provider on a global basis.

Uber’s Location Independence Day

At the center of Uber’s value is its location data — an area in which it is increasingly self-reliant. The company has been particularly driven when it comes to building up its own navigation capabilities over the past year, as the recognition of first party geo-data becomes important.

Rather than using Google Maps, Uber has decided that its marketing partnerships are as essential as appealing to riders and businesses — something that Toyota, which made a “strategic investment” in the company last month, has clearly recognized.

Uber’s first major move toward location data independence is coming up on its first anniversary. Last June, the company acquired digital navigation pioneer deCarta. That was followed by an alliance with Dutch navigation software company Tom Tom to use parts of that location trailblazer’s mapping technology.

With those tools in place, at the end of last year, Uber began assembling a “dream team” of digital mapping specialists. In December alone, Uber hired former Google Maps executives Manik Gupta and Daniel Graf, as well as location-based services veteran Marc Prioleau.

Location is the basis for Uber’s wide-ranging ambitions. While still primarily thought of a ride-hailing (or ride-sharing) service, the company is quickly scaling up its on-demand delivery offerings. To promote adoption of UberRUSH  in San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City,  it opened its API so that all businesses, from Nordstrom to a local pizzeria, could enable on-demand delivery through their individual branded apps.

The Factual deal also comes two days after Apple announced that the next iOS10 will allow iPhone users to be able to use Siri, the device’s voice-activated personal assistant, to request a ride and receive real-time updates. Uber uses will also be able to book a car from within the Apple Maps app as well, which Factual (as noted above) also supports.

“Transportation and logistics services require high quality places data to operate properly and efficiently,” Factual’s Michels noted. “Uber will use Factual’s Global Places data to customize and enhance the pickup and dropoff experience for riders and drivers.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.