“Oh man, I tell ya it was so sad leaving the garage…” Eric Gundersen tells me, mere moments after we get on the phone. As the CEO of local mapping company Mapbox, Gundersen is referring to the cute garage just off 14th Street that used to house Mapbox’s D.C.-based staff (and headquarters).
The garage, with its easy rolling door and industrial-chic vibes, was home to many an event and, as Gundersen reminisces on the phone, many an afternoon company BBQ. But Mapbox has been growing fast, and the garage couldn’t grow with them. As Gundersen puts it, “wow, we so outgrew that.”
Between offices in D.C. as well as San Francisco, Detroit, Peru and Bangalore, Mapbox employs 221 people. It has recently brought on 20 new hires just in the District. All of which is to say that the company needed a new office, and found one at 1509 16th Street NW.
The new office is right around the corner from Whole Foods in the trendy Logan Circle neighborhood — not far from where the garage is, really. But Gundersen admits that even the new space is tight. The company is growing “faster than expected,” he told Technical.ly.
“We’re scaling on the people side because we’re scaling on the product side,” Gundersen said. The company’s software provides “every building block you [by which Mapbox means developers] need to build location into your apps.” The company has 750,000 registered developers using the software, and between some big clients like National Geographic, The Weather Channel, Pinterest and more, Gundersen said around 250 million people are touching Mapbox maps in some way each month.
This is good news — “every time someone touches the map the map gets smarter,” Gundersen said.
And even with all this growth and global offices, Mapbox remains committed to D.C. as home. The company started in D.C. in order to be close to the international development agencies that were its initial customers, Gundersen said, and it has grown (and opened up new offices) in order to be close to newer customers.
What’s Gundersen’s favorite thing about having a tech company in D.C.? The talent.
“In D.C., talented developers are really plugged into what’s happening in the world,” Gundersen said. And for Mapbox, where a map isn’t just a map but (for example) a way to improve city transportation or eliminate malaria or help protestors stay safe and organized, this kind of curiosity and expertise is key.