Home / Tech / Verizon has sold mapping service MapQuest as the telecom giant continues to trim its media investments

Verizon has sold mapping service MapQuest as the telecom giant continues to trim its media investments

Hans Vestberg

  • Verizon has sold 13-year-old MapQuest for an undisclosed price to ad-tech firm System1. The sale of MapQuest was not material enough for Verizon to file paperwork.
  • The telecom company inherited MapQuest as part of its $4.4 billion acquisition of AOL in 2015. 
  • In August, Verizon sold blogging platform Tumblr to Automattic Inc., which owns WordPress.
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Verizon sold MapQuest as the telecom company continues to shed parts of its media business.

Verizon has sold off MapQuest to Venice, Calif.-based ad-tech firm System1 for an undisclosed amount. Verizon acquired MapQuest through its $4.4 billion acquisition of AOL in 2015, and AOL acquired the company for $1.1 billion in 1999. Verizon said that it did not file paperwork on the sale because the sale amount was not material.

System1 helps advertisers acquire users through search platforms like Google, Bing and Yahoo, according to the company’s website. The 6-year-old company has raised $270 million.

According to Verizon, System1 is acquiring MapQuest’s website, mobile apps and enterprise business from the Verizon Location Technology arm. Verizon said it would still be involved in MapQuest by creating location products and providing some technical support for the mapping site, a Verizon spokeswoman said.

“We believe this is a great opportunity for the MapQuest brand, the first digital mapping site on the internet, and the millions of consumers who rely on it every day,” Verizon said in a statement. “System1 plans to position, foster and grow the MapQuest brand as a more private alternative to other consumer mapping applications.”

Last November, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg reorganized the company into three groups: Verizon Consumer Group, Verizon Business Group, and Verizon Media Group. Then in December, Verizon disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that it planned to write down the value of Oath by $4.6 billion.

Read more: Verizon will write down $4.6 billion in value of Oath, the unit that combined AOL and Yahoo assets

Verizon continues to own websites including HuffPost, TechCrunch, Yahoo, and Build. Verizon recently sold blogging website Tumblr to WordPress.com owner Automattic Inc. for reportedly less than $20 million, according to Axios.

MapQuest has an advertising business but faces competition from Google and Apple

MapQuest claims to reach 38 million monthly unique users. Advertisers can buy display ads, sponsored routes and map layers that overlay ads on top of the site’s mapping technology. On Tuesday morning, Comfort Inn & Suites and Holiday Inn were running ads on MapQuest’s website that directed consumers to nearby hotels in New York.

Ads for Comfort Inn & Suites on MapQuest

MapQuest has for years faced big competition from Google Maps and Apple Maps that are built into Android and iPhone smartphones. In 2015, MapQuest claimed to have 40 million monthly users and be profitable, reported The Washington Post.

“It has to be a distraction — there’s no growth in there,” said an advertising executive close to the MapQuest sale.

According to a recent note by RBC Capital analyst Mark Mahaney, Google Maps is becoming a bigger money-maker for Google in addition to its core search and YouTube advertising business. Mahaney estimated that Maps would add $1.9 billion to $3.6 billion to Google’s revenue by 2021.

Read more: Here’s why one of Wall Street’s most well known internet analysts says Google Maps is set to add billions to Alphabet’s topline

Mahaney also wrote that Google controls 80% of the navigation app market between Google Maps and its driving app Waze. Google Maps controls 67% of the market while Waze controls 12% of the market and MapQuest, 8%.

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