The Making of a Location Data Industry Milestone

By Duncan McCall, CEO, PlaceIQ

duncan_headshot2xThis month, our company announced a landmark partnership with Alibaba Group, the world’s largest online and mobile commerce company. It is a significant milestone not only for our company, but – I believe – for the broader ‘location industry’ in general.

How did a company of the scale, diversity and technology proficiency of Alibaba end up working with a New York City-based location intelligence company?

From the first time we met with Alibaba, it was clear we didn’t need to sell them on the current importance, and future opportunity around location. When they came to us, they already had a clear vision for, and knowledge of the power of understanding consumer behavior through the lens of location. They realized the value of applying that new understanding across their hugely scaled assets.

Though Alibaba had tremendous enthusiasm and energy around this new opportunity, I believe they accurately realized the scale and complexity of the undertaking. Their search criteria focused on finding a potential partner that was an expert in ‘location’ and one that had legitimately built a robust technology platform to make sense of location and movement data. After extensive diligence across the market, they selected the PlaceIQ technology platform.

To understand why, let’s quickly go back more than six years ago to PlaceIQ’s origin. In those early days, my co-founder Steve Milton and I had a vision to build technology that could make sense of the vast amount of data being created in our world, in all of its forms. We sought to classify all of this data through the common organizing principle of location. In the process of moving towards this goal, PlaceIQ built a true, reality-based understanding of consumer behavior that has benefitted brands in vast array of industries.

PlaceIQ is unique in the space because we didn’t start our company as an ad network, social play, or point of interest provider. Our dedication to making sense of location and movement data, and technology-first vision is the same now as it was in 2010. During these years, we’ve focused our energy in one place: building and perfecting powerful technologies and capabilities to further this vision. These include:

  • Creating Place Visit Rate, the first ever foot traffic metric from mobile devices
  • Pioneering filtering of poor quality and incorrect movement data with Darwin
  • Breaking down silos by applying location data across other verticals such as TV and Out of Home (OOH)
  • Building our own domain specific programming language for location based analytics and behaviors

To start as a first-mover, it was extremely difficult in the early market to sell the concept of a ‘location tech and data’ platform to investors and customers. We were never dissuaded though and forged forward with our vision, confident that location was going to play an ever growing role across many markets and applications. We dedicated ourselves to building the best possible software, platform, team and capabilities to enable the broad market opportunity we felt would arrive. This dedication has led us down the path of building a licensable, software-driven location-processing platform for other enterprises to use and gain value from.

While we’ve had many incredible milestones along the way, announcing a partnership with the world’s largest online and mobile commerce company that includes their adoption of the PlaceIQ platform for their own massively scaled and diverse use cases is incredibly humbling. It’s a unique moment of validation for our highly differentiated technology and payoff for the years of effort our team has dedicated to this singular focus. It’s also a signal of the broader market shift that sees massive companies sharing the same vision we’ve had for so long—location as a critical component for understanding consumer behavior.

Now partnered with and backed by Alibaba Group, PlaceIQ continues to apply location data’s promise to a wider audience. This has been one of the biggest years ever for PlaceIQ and the year isn’t even done yet. Stay tuned for some more exciting milestones.