Skip to content

F1 champion Nico Rosberg invests in navigation system what3words

Formula One champion Nico Rosberg and US venture capital firm SAIC Capital have invested in addressing system what3words.

Alpine Electronics Inc – who specialise in audio and GPS systems – also participated in the latest round, alongside existing investor Daimler, who built the technology into their latest A-Class vehicles with plans for a wider roll out. Existing investor Intel Capital also took part.

The latest funding, which is of an undisclosed amount, will fuel the scale-up’s expansion into new markets, and enable it to continue developing products.

How does it work?

What3words has split the globe into a grid made up of 57 trillion squares. Its tech automatically assigns a unique three-word address to any 3m x 3m square.

The 3 word address ‘///filled.count.soap’, for example, refers to the exact 3m x 3m at the entrance of what3words’ London office.

The company, headquartered in London, was founded in 2013 by Chris Sheldrick and Jack Waley-Cohen.

CEO Sheldrick spoke about the investment: “The latest funding round is helping fuel our global expansion into new markets, with offices coming in Silicon Valley and Berlin later this year. It’s also driving the launch of new languages, adding to our recent release of Japanese and Korean and to resource our developments in speech recognition for the variety of voice assistants on the market.”

New investor Nico Rosberg describes what3words as a truly revolutionary way to talk about location, and a technology that makes a huge positive impact on the world.

He added: “I can now get into my car, and navigate somewhere by just saying three words. Car manufacturers that can offer a more accurate, easy to use navigation system have a real opportunity to enhance the driver’s experience and make big progress towards sustainability.”

The purpose is to build a worldwide addressing system, to combat the problem that around  75% of the world (135 countries) are ‘invisible’ on mapping systems; unable to get deliveries, receive aid, report disease as they struggle to communicate where they live. 

The system is built by code, an API or SDK that businesses can integrate into their apps and services. What3words’ navigation system has recently been adopted by TomTom, Sygic and NeuSoft.

The IOS and Android app is currently available in 26 languages, as the system is designed specifically for voice input.

SAIC Capital is a US-based Capital arm of SAIC Motor Corporation Limited, China’s largest auto group.

Investment director Michael Cohen concluded: “what3words is entering a new phase in which the company has a growing presence in the automotive world. We are excited to back them now, ahead of the technology becoming commonplace in all vehicles, and look forward to the global adoption of their unique system.”

Since its inception, what3words has closed some successful funding rounds.

UKTN first reported its $500,000 Seed funding back in November 2013, followed by a further $1 million in Seed funding, announced in March 2014.

In April 2015 it closed the Seed rounds at £1.5m, then in November 2015 Intel Capital led its £2.25m Series A. Previously, in October 2017, it closed a $8.5m Series B round led by Aramex.