[Osmf-talk] TomTom and OSM

Eugene Alvin Villar seav80 at gmail.com
Fri Dec 6 18:28:14 UTC 2019

Hi Steve,

I would like to know more about your relationship with TomTom and the
company's role with respect to OSM.

In your answers to questions and your manifesto, you never mentioned that
you are currently employed as a VP at TomTom since April 2019. And in your
answer to the CoI question, you also never mentioned anything about any
potential conflicts of interest with TomTom.

I am curious about this. While TomTom is generally known as a manufacturer
of GPS devices similar to Garmin, TomTom is also nominally a competitor of
OSM ever since they bought Tele Atlas (one of the two commercial providers
of global mapping data together with Navteq and before Google Maps entered
the market) for €2.9 billion back in 2007-2008. Tele Atlas is now a
subsidiary known as TomTom Maps[1]. TomTom has even acknowledged OSM as a
competitor back in 2012 when they released an article[2] disparaging open
source maps (in other words, OSM) for being unreliable, incomplete, and
dangerous. (Richard Fairhurst then wrote a response saying TomTom is
peddling in FUD[3].)

So what changed? Is TomTom now embracing OSM? After you joined TomTom, two
other former OSMF Board members have since joined TomTom: Martijn van Exel
in June[4] and Matt Amos in July[5]. In addition, TomTom became a minor
sponsor of State of the Map US this year[6]. I do not believe that you,
Martijn, and Matt would actually do anything against OSM's best interest so
my only conclusion is that TomTom is quietly embracing OSM. Can you confirm
if this is the case?

Whatever the case, I do think that TomTom being the parent company of
TomTom Maps still presents a potential, if not clear, conflict of interest
between your employer and OSM.


[1] https://www.tomtommaps.com/
[3] http://blog.systemed.net/post/2
[4] https://www.linkedin.com/in/mvexel
[5] https://www.linkedin.com/in/matt-amos-94175ba0
[6] https://twitter.com/sotmus/status/1168540837426470912
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