Location Tech Vet Marc Prioleau, Ex- Google Maps’ Graf Join Uber Amid Geo-Focused Hiring Spree
The on-demand car service is building an all-star team by concentrating on constructing its own location tools.
Just a week after Uber brought in Manik Gupta after seven years at Google Maps to help expand its own location technology ambitions, the ride-sharing company is adding two more major builders from the digital navigation space: Marc Prioleau and former Google Maps director Daniel Graf, who announced their moves in separate blog posts.
Prioleau has operated his own geospatial business consultancy, Prioleau Advisors, for six years. As he moves to Uber, Prioleau Advisors’ services will be shut down. His career in location tech began in 1995, when Prioleau managed marketing for Trimble Navigation’s OEM Division, “a group chartered to sell credit card sized GPS modules into early navigation systems for prices of around $200,” as he describes in his bio.
At Uber, Prioleau will be working on generating business development and partnerships, with a focus on “creating and managing partnerships with geospatial content & technology suppliers worldwide,” he said in a blog post. In a sense, Prioleau’s hire at Uber brings him full circle, as one of his other early positions was with mapping technology pioneer deCarta, which Uber acquired earlier this year, following its purchase of a portion of Microsoft search tool Bing’s assets.
“Uber has a vision for changing the way people move around,” Prioleau wrote in his post. “At the core of that vision is a clear understanding of location and place; of understanding where things are and how to optimize the logistics of transportation. And that means maps and geospatial data. Uber’s focus on maps and geospatial analysis to solve these problems is a huge part of what attracted me to the company and the position. I’m looking forward to working with the team there.”
Similar to Prioleau, Graf’s has spent the past decade exploring the business of online, mobile and social video for live and on-demand content in executive posts at companies such as content services platform Kyte, which he founded in 2005 and left when it was bought by Kit Digital almost six years later.
Graf then joined Google’s Mobile Apps Lab in 2011 and transitioned to the role of Google Maps director. He was ultimately appointed senior director of Google Maps in Oct. 2012, a post he held until April 2012, when he jumped to Twitter to become VP of consumer content.
Graf stayed at Twitter for less than a year, at which point he decided to become an angel investor. “After a wonderful year of helping startups, exploring the world, getting married and taking some time to reflect in between jobs, my next ride has arrived,” Graf wrote in LinkedIn blog post. “Today I join Uber to head up Marketplace Dynamics.”
Uber began 2015 with the goal of becoming more “location self-reliant” by reducing its licensing of mapping systems from other companies like Google. In addition to noteworthy hires and acquisitions, Uber has also struck a deal with Dutch navigation software company Tom Tom to use parts of their mapping technology as well after failing to acquire Nokia’s Here technology.
Those additions and alliances have helped fuel Uber’s location-based hiring spree the past few weeks.
“Uber is a two sided marketplace,” Graf writes. “This team is responsible for the algorithms that match drivers with riders, determine prices and optimize use of the network. The goal is to ensure cars are always available for riders at the lowest possible price, while maximizing earnings for drivers. These are hard exciting computer science challenges and I cannot wait to get started… At Google Maps we helped over a billion people to find the best route from A to B. At Uber it’s about making that journey possible.”