Urban navigation app Citymapper has announced that it intends to launch a new bus service in London.
Starting on Tuesday or Wednesday, the Citymapper CMX1 bus will run a circulatory route around Blackfriars and Waterloo bridge, the company announced in a blog post.
“In time you’re going to see us ‘rethink’ how buses and routes operate and how to make them more efficient and useful in cities,” Citymapper said.
Citymapper, which started out as a London bus app, plans to use a regular bus and a smaller bus (both in green).
The buses contain a smart display that shows passengers information about where they are and where they’re headed to next. They also have USB ports so that passengers can charge their phone. “This bus is wired,” said Citymapper. “It’s got tracking software for real time integration with the app, passenger counting, and a driver app.”
Founded in 2011 by Pakistani-born former Google employee Azmat Yusuf, Citymapper began life as an app exclusively for Londoners. The app has since expanded to cover more than 30 cities — including Madrid, Sao Paulo, and San Francisco.
Last January, Citymapper raised $US40 million (£28.2 million), bringing total investment in the company to $US50 million (£35 million) and giving it a valuation that is likely to be in excess of £250 million.
The company’s investors include Index Ventures and Benchmark Capital, as well as individuals including Yuri Milner, Tom Stafford, and Michael Lynton.
But Citymapper has one ongoing problem: it doesn’t make any money. Last December, Yusuf told the TechCrunch Disrupt conference that Citymapper plans to start generating revenue in 2017.
Yusuf didn’t explain exactly how his company is going to start generating revenue, but hinted that he could sell some of the company’s data collection and refinement tools to government agencies and cities.
“Our tools have a lot of value,” Yusuf said. “Some cities want to use our tools in order to create and fix data … If you really scale that out, if you think about the number of cities in the world, the number of agencies in the world, that have really ancient software systems they’re using, it’s like Windows from the nineties. They can use better tools there.”
When asked whether he would sell Citymapper to a tech giant like Google for $US1 billion (£771 million), Yusuf didn’t sound too keen. “A billion? That’s boring,” he said. “If you have an opportunity to build something great and solve real problems, which we think we can, then why not do that? Isn’t that the whole point?”