Information technology briefs

October 20, 2013
Financing
Mapping start-up raises $10 million

MapBox, the start-up behind the map function in Foursquare and car-service Uber, has closed a $10 million financing round from Denver-based venture firm the Foundry Group.

The Washington- and San Francisco-based start-up customizes interactive maps for Web sites and apps. In addition to supporting smartphone technologies, MapBox often works with media outlets to visualize data for readers. For instance, it created a map illustrating regional conflict in Syria for the Financial Times.

This round of funding will be used to add more people to MapBox’s 35-member team, according to the company.

The Foundry Group has invested in several data-centric start-ups including FitBit, which relies on special wrist gear and other wearable monitors to track fitness.

— Mohana Ravindranath

utilities
EBay, Oracle chief embrace microgrids

Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison plans to build a microgrid to power the Hawaiian island he bought last year. EBay has one to run a data center. The University of California at San Diego and the federal government have invested tens of millions of dollars in the technology.

Microgrids are emerging as a credible threat to the dominance of America’s century-old utility monopoly. The small-scale versions of centralized power systems are gaining thousands of customers as homeowners in states with high power costs turn to them as a way to manage rooftop solar systems and cut electricity bills.

Not much of a factor a decade ago, microgrids are expected to explode into a $40 billion-a-year global business by 2020, according to Navigant Research, a clean-technology data and consulting company. In the United States, about 6 gigawatts of electricity— enough to power as many as 4.8 million homes — will flow through microgrids by 2020, Navigant said.

— Bloomberg News

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