CloudMade has raised $12.3 million to help build an alternative mapping platform, fueled by a fleet of volunteers using their cellphones. The Menlo Park, CA-based company wants to break the tradition of having to hire drivers, who cover every road in the world in order to get an accurate map. Rather, it wants to leverage crowd-sourcing to build the map, as well as add context, such as hiking trails and ski slopes, or information like the best pizza restaurant or the best place to birdwatch.
Juha Christensen, CloudMade’s CEO and chairman, said the company is similar to how Wikipedia challenged the encyclopedia. “You went from a small number of people writing articles on a wide number of subjects to experts writing about what they know best. The same thing goes for the map. You can