HotStop.com, a navigation service founded by Nigerian entrepreneur Chinedu Echeruo, has reportedly been acquired by Apple Inc. for $1 billion as part of the tech giant’s efforts to improve its web and mobile mapping infrastructure.
The HotStop.com acquisition deal was first reported by The Wall Street Journal blog, “All Things Digital.” It is, to an extent, seen as Apple’s response to an earlier acquisition of a similar service by rival tech company Google, which paid slightly more than $1 billion to buy Israel-based mapping startup Waze.
HotStop.com had often been compared to the Waze map application in terms of the services it offers.
Echeruo reportedly founded the site back in 2005 as a result of the difficulties he used to have navigating through New York City while he was working on Wall Street. This led him to create the innovative mapping service which provides directions and assists people in finding nearby bus stops and subway stations. HotStop.com has applications for iOS and Android mobile devices and covers over 300 cities across the world, including San Francisco, Toronto, London and Paris.
HotStop.com enables Apple to provide mass transit directions — an aspect that the company’s map application was not covering previously. The Cupertino, California-based company had in fact been relying on Google for map data since 2007.
Echeruo, who grew up in the eastern part of Nigeria, had worked as an analyst at several hedge funds and investment banks before starting HotStop.com. The Syracuse University and Harvard Business School graduate worked for a number of years in J.P. Morgan Chase’s Mergers & Acquisitions and Leveraged Finance groups. He also worked with AM Investment Partners, a $500 million bond arbitrage hedge fund.
Black Enterprise’s 2007 Small Business Innovator of the Year started another U.S.-based Internet company called Tripology.com in 2010, according to BET Global News. African Leadership Magazine reported that the company was sold to Rand McNally, a U.S.-based travel and navigation information company.
Echeruo is now a partner and principal investing group chief at a West Africa-based investment bank, Constant Capital. His new mission is to help small businesses in Africa grow through his latest solution-based project.
“There is no reason why every entrepreneur should have to reinvent the wheel every single time in all the countries in Africa,” Echeruo said in a 2012 TED Talk. “My idea is to essentially have one place where a budding entrepreneur can access a template for starting a business, and then customize it to suit their own situation; essentially, a business-in-a-box.”