Never Lost Again | Bill Kilday

Summary of: Never Lost Again: The Google Mapping Revolution That Sparked New Industries and Augmented Our Reality
By: Bill Kilday


Embark on a mesmerizing journey into the creation of Google Earth and Google Maps, as told in ‘Never Lost Again’ by Bill Kilday. Discover the story behind a small start-up called Keyhole, founded by John Hanke, which eventually led to revolutionary mapping technology used by millions today. With the intense focus on data collection and incredible determination throughout the years, Keyhole weathered the dot-com bubble and transformed the way we view our world through mapping innovations. Understand the key highlights and themes of this extraordinary tale, and get ready to be inspired by the groundbreaking work that redefined our concept of maps.

The Birth of Google Maps

In 1999, Bill Kilday’s old college friend, John Hanke, showed him a demo of EarthViewer, a small start-up called Keyhole’s program which would later be known as Google Earth and Google Maps. Keyhole’s mission was to create an EarthViewer program that could be run on any computer in the world, but their technology wasn’t sufficient yet. However, they began to collect data by obtaining higher-resolution images from J.R. Robertson’s Airphoto USA, a company that had previously mapped numerous large cities. This was the beginning of mapping the world, and it ultimately led to the birth of Google Maps.

Surviving the Dot-Com Bubble

In 2001, following the dot-com bubble burst, Keyhole, a startup, survived by pivoting from targeting individual consumers to diversifying and targeting a range of clients. They demonstrated their EarthViewer program at trade shows to real estate developers, used it to survey territory for government clients, and even aided in a murder investigation led by the Santa Clara district attorney’s office. By diversifying their audience, Keyhole managed to stay afloat while other tech companies floundered.

Keyhole’s Transformation

The US invasion of Iraq in 2003 was Keyhole’s turning point, leading CNN to use their EarthViewer system which generated massive traffic to their site. The CIA took note and commissioned Keyhole to develop a private version of the system, which proved to be the start-up’s most lucrative contract.

The Game-Changing Acquisition

In 2004, Google purchased Keyhole, a company that had developed a revolutionary mapping program called EarthViewer. During a meeting about Picasa, Google co-founder Sergey Brin showed the program to his executives, who were astounded. Shortly after, Google approached Keyhole with a desire to acquire the company. John Hanke, Keyhole’s CEO, met with Google’s founders and discussed how EarthViewer could fit within Google’s business model. They saw a future where the mapping technology could change everything, and it did. The acquisition of Keyhole enabled Google to take its search capacity to the next level and paved the way for Google Maps, a program that transformed the way people navigate the world.

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