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How Sydney techies created Google Maps
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October 19, 2010 - 6:17 pm
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The Sydney-based developers of Google Maps have been recognised for their outstanding entrepreneurship and contribution to the industry.

Brothers Lars and Jens Rasmussen were named NSW's Entrepreneurs of the Year in the information and communications technology (ICT) field.

The annual Pearcey Foundation award was announced at NSW Parliament on Tuesday, with their achievement being hailed as a coup for Australia, positioning it as a global leader in online services.

Their rise to success has also been described as one of the best examples of innovation and entrepreneurship - one which led to the creation of a multi-billion dollar venture.

In early 2003, the brothers co-founded a mapping start-up, Where 2 Technologies, and sold it to Google in October 2004.

The siblings then joined Google as lead engineers in the team that turned the acquisition into Google Maps, now used by millions of people around the world.

They had been working in the US' Silicone Valley but lost their jobs at the time the dot-com bubble burst - something they would later recount as a "blessing in disguise".

Online mapping, Jens argued, left room for improvement.

Mapping sites were back then almost exclusively about driving directions, but Jens wondered what would happen if they could create a platform for users to find a movie cinema, buy a ticket and then search for nearby pizza places.

After a few international relocations, the pair settled in Sydney due to US visa complications with Lars's Cuban girlfriend (now wife) - a decision which was to have enormous benefits for NSW and Australia.

"Lars and Jens' development of Google Maps has positioned Australia as a global leader in online services," the Pearcey Foundation's NSW co-chair Charles Lindop said.

"It resulted in Google establishing a significant research and development team in Sydney and the creation of many high-tech jobs.

"Google Maps is now used by around one-third of all Google visitors and represents over three per cent of all total global Google traffic."

The Rasmussens then did it all again with Google Wave.

"What better example of entrepreneurship and innovation can you get?" Mr Lindop said.

The Pearcey Foundation was established in 1998 to raise the profile of the Australian ICT industry and profession.

Each year, the foundation's state committees make an award to a young ICT professional in each state who has demonstrated outstanding, innovative and business achievements.

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