what3words Revenue and Usage Statistics (2024)

David Curry

Updated: January 16, 2024

It’s rare that an app makes headway with emergency services before the general public. In the UK, what3words has become a critical tool, saving the lives of many who have been stranded or needing assistance.

Over 75 emergency services in the UK use the system, as a better way to locate people. Police in North Yorkshire have urged residents to download the app, and rescue services also swear by it.

What3words segments the world into 57 trillion 3 by 3 meter squares, each with a unique address composed of three words.

Chris Sheldrick, the co-founder and CEO of what3words, conceived of the idea after having trouble getting mail delivered to his home in rural Hertfordshire. Also, as a gig organiser, he struggled to get bands to meet at specific entrances.

The premise was simple: create a simpler geo-locator without sacrificing accuracy. Sheldrick immediately considered a switch from numbers to words and asked mathematician (and co-founder) Mohan Ganesalingam to crunch how many would be needed to cover the planet.

The answer was 40,000, although newer languages only have 25,000 words as they don’t cover the sea.

Now, instead of searching for latitude & longitude, a person stranded need only share the three word address and emergency services have a pinpoint location. It also works as a far more accurate postcode, so much so that Mongolia has adopted it for postal services.

Considering approximately four billion people don’t have a home address and 75 percent of countries don’t have a well maintained address system, the potential for what3words is enormous. Instead of setting up a costly postcode system, countries could simply license the technology and inform citizens to download the app.

However, as what3words becomes more of an essential tool, will the startup be able to maintain it as a for-profit venture? There have been several complaints about the app’s proprietary tech and its combative attempts to shut down open-source competitors.

While what3words has said it offers discounts to emergency services and developing nations, it treads on rather thin ground. That being said, Sheldrick sees it as part of a change in how governments outsource infrastructure to private companies, a trend happening globally.

Outside of working with governmental departments, what3words has also partnered with travel guides Black Tomato, Trip Wolf and Lonely Planet. Airbnb guests can be told which entrance to enter and leave with what3words and Cabify drivers can assign a precise location where the rider should meet.

BMW and Mercedes have both integrated what3words into the navigation systems.

Even with this strong commercial growth, what3words has not released total or monthly active user figures, which hints at a stronger corporate than consumer backing.

The company may struggle to keep the emergency services partnered with the widespread adoption of Advanced Mobile Location (AML). All smartphones in the UK, US and 21 other countries have AML embedded, removing the need for a separate app download.

Emergency services is just one sector for what3words however, and one that will be an increasingly negligible source of revenue as more countries adopt what3words for their postal and address services.

We have collected data and statistics on what3words. Read on below to find out more.

what3words key statistics

  • What3words generated £838,000 revenue in 2022, a 88% year-on-year increase
  • It has been valued at £250 million in a 2020 funding round
  • What3words has been downloaded over 45 million times
  • Over 1,000 customers use what3words, including the Mongolian postal service

what3words overview

TitleTitle 2
Launch date2 July 2013
HQLondon, UK
PeopleChris Sheldrick (co-founder, CEO)
Business typePrivate
IndustryNavigation

what3words revenue

what3words made £838,000 revenue in 2022. In 2015, it axed its business model, which is why revenue decreased in 2016.

what3words annual revenue 2015 to 2022 (£)

YearRevenue (£)
201530,000
20163,000
201720,000
2018270,000
2019390,000
2020458,000
2021444,000
2022838,000

Source: Companies House

what3words profit

what3words has been unprofitable since launch, but it saw a slight improvement on the previous years figures.

what3words annual net income/loss 2015 to 2022 (£mm)

YearProfit (£mm)
2015
2016
2017
2018
2019
2020
2021
2022

Source: Companies House

what3words downloads

what3words has been downloaded over 45 million times, with a majority of the downloads happening in the past two years.

what3words cumulative downloads 2018 to 2022 (mm)

YearDownloads (mm)
20181.4
20194.8
202011.8
202130.2
202247.7

Source: AppMagic

what3words customers

what3words has over 1,000 customers who pay for premium services, these include emergency and postal services.

what3words customers 2017 to 2020

YearCustomers

Sources: Impakter, UK Tech News

what3words valuation

what3words was most recently valued at £250 million, led by Ingka Investments.

what3words valuation 2017 to 2020 (£mm)

YearValuation (£mm)
201730
2018140
2020250

Sources: Dealroom, The Telegraph

what3words funding

what3words has received £45 million in total funding since launch, with the majority being received in the past two years.

what3words cumulative funding 2014 to 2020 (£mm)

YearFunding (£mm)
20141
20153
201610
202045

Source: Crunchbase

what3words FAQ

How many word variations are there on what3words?

There are over 57 trillion unique variations on what3words

How many words does what3words use?

what3words pulls from a list of 40,000 words to create their variations

What are some of the largest businesses using what3words?

The Mongolian postal service (BBC), Mercedes Benz (Wired) and Dominos all use what3words

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