Mail.ru Group Ltd. (MAIL), Russian billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s Internet company, acquired maps and navigation service Maps.Me to accelerate its international expansion.
Mail.ru, which runs social networks and online games in Russia, started its My.com service last year to target users outside its home market with mobile games and communications apps. Maps.Me, which will be added to My.com, gives Mail.ru millions of map users globally. Moscow-based Mail.ru didn’t disclose the deal’s value in its statement yesterday.
The purchase also lets Mail.ru better compete with Google Inc. (GOOG) and Russia’s Yandex NV (YNDX), which have had their own map services for years. The acquisition gives Mail.ru location services at a cost that’s lower than developing its own maps.
Maps.Me relies on data from OpenStreetMap, a project whose maps are created and edited by users around the world, much like Wikipedia. Maps.Me, developed by Belarusian programmers, has been downloaded 7 million times, 82 percent of those outside Russia. Its fewer than 20 employees will join Mail.ru.
“Adding the Maps.Me team to work together on our global expansion was a strategic move,” Mail.ru Chief Executive Officer Dmitry Grishin said in the statement. “OpenStreetMap has a remarkable idea of crowdsourced maps behind it, and we believe that its role all over the world is going to increase.”
The maps of Maps.me are also available offline, helping travelers to avoid roaming charges and access information in places with no wireless connection.
Mail.ru shares fell 2.1 percent to $22.39 at 8:48 a.m. in London. They have dropped by half this year.