Chinese Internet giant Tencent continues its acquisition spree this year by pouring 60 million yuan ($9.92 million) of funding in Beijing-based mapping service Linktech Navi for a 100% stake in the company (source in Chinese).
Founded in 2001, Linktech Navi is accredited with the state Grade-A qualification on surveying and mapping. The company’s main businesses are digital maps, navigation system, GPS vehicle monitoring solution, LBS application solution, etc. Linktech Navi’s customers include automobile manufacturers, like Chery, Shac, and Hawtai Motor, navigation services, telecos, among others.
Tencent has laid out in mapping sector by launching streetview maps via its search engine Soso.com back in 2011. After two years of development, Tencent recently rebranded Soso Streetview Map into Tencent Maps and claimed that the service has collected streetview data covering more than 2 million kilometers of streets in more than 100 cities.
With Grade-B qualification on surveying and mapping, Tencent previously have to file to municipal government when it planned to explore a new city. Grade-A qualification allows mapping services to file to provincial authorities, and therefore, will accelerate the data collecting speed for Tencent Maps, according to Zhang Xuan, head of Tencent Maps.
The acquisition of a mapping service may also give Tencent more advantages in competition with peers, because it is currently using the basic mapping data from leading digital map content and nevigation service provider AutoNavi.
Maps seem to have become a must for every company who is expanding, or has to expand, to mobile Internet market. Alibaba acquired Emapgo with $35 million in 2010 and invested $294 million in AutoNavi for a 28% stake in the company in 2013. Baidu acquired a map service Changdi Wanfang and launched a streetview feature last year.
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