First Photo Day - A Look at Two Years of Mapillary

Today, October 8, is First Photo Day here at Mapillary, the day when the first Mapillary photo was published in 2013. A lot has happened in these two roller-coaster years. Here is my summary.

First photo The first Mapillary photo, on October 8, 2013.


Some things stand out as highlights from these two years:

  • Our amazing community. It has been incredible to get to know passionate members, see them spread around the world, hold events, give talks and take amazing photos.
  • This amazing team. Every day I’m amazed at what a small team of motivated, incredibly talented people can do.
  • 3D reconstructing the world. A big portion of the team are former computer vision researchers and many of the things we have done at Mapillary felt impossible when we started out. 3D reconstructing randomly collected photos across time, across devices and from any location or angle in a scalable way on a limited budget was one of those impossible things involving everything from architecture to databases to algorithms.
  • Working in the open. Mapillary photos are available under an open license, we share a lot of what we build as open source, we use a lot of open source tools, we iterate in the open, do our bug tracking in the open, and try to be as transparent as possible as people and as a company.
  • Our supporters, partners, and investors who share our vision and help us move forward. You rock and we are honored!

All things start small

When we started out in September 2013, there were three of us; me, Yubin and Johan. We started hacking pieces together in a co-working space in Malmö.

Mapillary went live November 2013 in a very early beta. We released everything in the open when it was barely working (and we have kept releasing everything too early since ;)). The "design" was minimalistic and white. There was an early iOS app and an API but that was it.

When we showed Mapillary at a startup conference in Stockholm for our first public appearance a few days after going live, we had ~12,000 photos in total, almost all taken by ourselves. We ended up winning a trip to Paris and Le Web at that conference.

First site The first website was minimalistic.

At the start of the new year, we were having performance problems loading the graph of image connections that made it possible to navigate between photos. At that point Peter joined as our fourth co-founder after months of “dating”, and with his graph database background quickly solved the problem.

We went out of beta at the LAUNCH conference in San Francisco at the end of February 2014, almost six months after starting out. That was the start of incredible growth and plenty of learning for us. We have kept the team small, built everything ourselves, and tried to keep up with scaling.

First site The website around the time of LAUNCH. The black theme has stayed with us to this day.

Some milestones

Staying the course

Our manifesto, that I wrote when we launched, has that early-days spirit and still holds true today, unchanged.

Onwards and upwards my friends. Let’s build the impossible together!

/Jan Erik

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