Garmin today announced the passing of Navionics co-founder and longtime leader Giuseppe Carnevali at the age of 74. Serving as Navionics president and CEO for almost 30 years, Carnevali co-invented the first electronic chart display system for recreational yachts and is credited with numerous marine innovations such as auto-routing technology, user-generated cartography and the development of vector charts used in the first GPS-enabled chartplotters. Dedicated to creating intuitive, user-friendly technology, the accomplished yachtsman, sailor and pilot once said, “If people can’t figure out how to use it, it’s as useless as if it didn’t work at all.”
Born in Carrara, Italy, Carnevali attained a Doctor of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture degree in 1971 from the University of Genova, where he graduated magna cum laude. He served a tour of duty in the Italian navy and participated in sail racing competitions, winning two national championships. Once his naval career ended, Carnevali served as production manager of the prestigious Benetti Shipyard where he oversaw construction of the 281-foot Nabila, the most sophisticated mega yacht of its time with 20 tons of electronic equipment onboard.
Carnevali’s entrepreneurial journey began when he founded a company that made automation systems for unmanned machinery spaces on liquefied gas and chemical tankers. A second startup introduced the first CAD-CAM technology and computer graphics into Italian shipbuilding. In the early 1980s, determined to invent something radically new, Carnevali combined his extensive background in the boating and shipping industry with his navigational and computer graphics experience to create with the world's first electronic charting device. In 1984, he launched Navionics and changed the way people navigate. Under his leadership over the next three decades, the company grew into a global leader in electronic charting—with the world’s largest privately held database of marine and lake charts covering the salt waters of the entire planet as well as tens of thousands of lakes and rivers.
Carnevali retired in 2017 after completing the sale of Navionics to Garmin, and the following year the National Marine Manufacturers Association recognized his contributions with the Alan J. Freedman Memorial Leadership Award and the Italian Marine Industry Association’s Boating Pioneer award. Despite all his accolades, contributions and disruptive innovations to the marine industry, Carnevali was most proud of his work in the non-profit sector. He created and was the largest contributor to the Carnevali Foundation, which promotes literacy for children through the construction and operation of schools in the impoverished neighborhoods of Hyderabad, India. Since its inception, the foundation’s schools have taught over 2,000 children, helping chart a new course for the next generation of innovators.