Issue 20

Interview with Philipp Kandal

Ovidiu Mățan
Founder @ Today Software Magazine


Lately, we have witnessed a series of acquisitions of local companies. It is also the case of EBS, purchased by NTT Data, Kno by Intel, or Evoline by Accenture. The last transaction of this kind was the purchasing of Skobbler by Telenav. Philipp Kandal, co-founder of Skobbler, had the kindness to answer a few questions for us.

Ovidiu Mățan: Philipp, congratulation for the selling Skobbler to Telenav. Please tell us three product strenghts that made possible this deal.

Philipp Kandal: We have focussed consequently on OpenStreetMap which is comparable to a Wikipedia of maps. This is growing at a very fast pace and on the way to become the most important map in the world. As we have been the most successful company in that area that was the key reason why Telenav wanted to acquire skobbler. Apart from our strong OpenStreetMap technology the main assets which we built was a strong installed user base (> 4 Mio. users) and our unique offline capabilities that allow people to use our products full offline without a connection to the internet. So at the end it was a mix of a great product and an outstanding technology built by a world-class team which made this deal possible.

Probably the most important aspect for the local IT community, how will be affected the Skobbler team by this transaction on short and longer term perspective?

This is a deal about doubling down on our efforts and growing the teams and products we"ve built here. So we clearly expect to grow our team in Cluj and with more capital build even more awesome products. We are going to be very aggressive moving forwards with the products we are creating and pushing them into the market i.e. we"ll be expanding in more new regions. Short term you can expect that we"re looking to unify the brands between skobbler and Telenav, but definitely we"ll continue to focus building outstanding consumer products for the future.

We know that you are leading the company from a technical perspective too. How this will change, will you still continue to collaborate with Telenav for a while?

I am very committed to what we"ve built, so I"ll definitely stay as a General Manager of our Cluj offices. Long term I"ll have to see, but everybody who knows me is aware that I am a great supporter of entrepreneurship, so that"s definitely a path I would explore again, and in the mean time I definitely have now the ability to make some more angel investments in Cluj ;).

Now, the question that everyone might looking for. What will you do next? Will you continue to stay in the maps/navigation area or are you planning to do something totally different ?

As said I definitely want to see our products grow to tens of millions of users so for the foreseeable future I"ll stay at Telenav. If I would have to start something new at some point it would most likely be in a new area outside of maps / navigation as I am definitely keen to explore a few areas that need to be rethought from ground-up, definitely I wouldn"t do a me-too but something that could be revolutionary.

You had been involved in local events like Startup Weekend and supporting many others locally including our own, IT Days. Also you were supporting and sponsoring local startups like Squirrly. What are you planning next ? Are you planning to remain in Cluj and build another business?

I truly believe that Cluj is a fantastic place for entrepreneurs, so I"ll definitely stay in Cluj for a long time. I am actually considering to buy an apartment here, so you can expect me here for the long-run. I hope we all can make this place a truly competitive place for entrepreneurs and create some internationally respected companies out of Cluj, and I am very keen to try to help in this process in any way that I can..




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