13 Comments

Summary:

Waze, a mapping data service with social features has been subject of acquisition rumors for a while. There was speculation of Apple buying them. There there was Facebook and its rumored $1 billion offer. Now Israeli-media reports are speculating that Google is the new buyer.

waze-screenshot

A month after rumors emerged that Facebook was close to buying mapping data company Waze for a billion dollars, a new report from Israel’s Globes Online says that now Google is looking to acquire the company for a whopping $1.3 billion. At this point we shouldn’t treat it more than just a rumor. Waze was also linked to Apple, but Tim Cook denied any interest at the D conference earlier this year. The four-year-old company has raised $67 million in funds from the likes of Horizon Ventures and Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Previous investors include Qualcomm, Bluerun Ventures and Microsoft.

If Google buys Waze, then someone from Waze needs to send my colleague Mathew Ingram, a T-shirt. He astutely pointed out that Google should be snatching this company from Facebook or regret it later. Here is what he wrote:

Waze — which won our Launchpad event at Mobilize in 2009 — provides real-time informationabout everything from road closures and accidents to traffic backups and police speed-traps. The information is superimposed on a scrollable map, and there are also a number of social features built in, which allow users to see and share information, including messages, with other drivers. Waze even provides gas-price data.

Facebook has its own reasons for wanting a service like Waze, I think Google would be the real loser if it went to either of these companies, for the simple reason that Google Maps is a big part of the company’s mobile appeal — at least for me, and I would suspect for many others. Google Maps also has traffic data, and it is also based on real-time information, which comes from other users of the service who have their GPS location turned on. It is pretty accurate — but I don’t find it nearly as useful as Waze. I didn’t think enough people would take the time to enter information about things like traffic or speed traps into Waze to make it useful, but I was wrong. And Google doesn’t seem to have any plans to try and duplicate that, since it is more focused on automating that whole process, in typical Google fashion.

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  1. the t-shirt should already be on its way

  2. GREAT!

  3. Balthazar B Sunday, June 9, 2013

    Ummm….I have the feeling Waze was solidly on Google’s radar well before May 9th. :)

    1. Yes, @balthazar ;-)

  4. Matt Liotta Sunday, June 9, 2013

    This sucks! As a consumer, the best purchaser would be Apple as IOS maps needs some help. Google could provide a better Waze on their own if they wanted to. Facebook I’m sure won’t improve Waze; just mine the data and litter it with ads.

    Therefore, this is really just Google keeping the status quo of being better than everyone else.

    +1 corps, -1 consumers

    1. Let’s look at three of the possible scenarios, all of which assume Waze was going to get acquired.

      1) Facebook buys. Undoubtedly, FB would force integration with regular FB including things like real-time tracking and other things Waze users don’t necessarily want and which add no value to what Waze does (i.e. get you places faster). Waze probably ceases to exist as a product.

      2) Apple buys. Undoubtedly immediately making the produced iOS-only thus yanking the app from everybody else. No benefit for anyone not using Apple products, which at this point is the majority of the world. Waze probably ceases being a standalone product and gets rolled into Apple Maps.

      3) Google buys. There may be some G+ or Google Now data integration -Now already has some real-time mapping- but it probably won’t be at the level of FB. Google also has a history of multi-platform so there is no serious risk of it becoming Android-only. This seems the closest to allowing Waze to continue being Waze.

      Tossing in some wild geese of Microsoft (would certainly push to make Windows Phone-only), and Yahoo (has no serious mobile app history) does not change the outcome.

      If the goal is to allow Waze to continue being Waze and on multiple platforms, the Google was always the only good choice. Everybody else was either going to mangle the product, force it into their existing products, and/or restrict it to their particular platform.

      1. NoName

        That is a great assessment. I think Facebook too falls in the “play-with-everyone” category but you are right about Google being more focused on Maps and location and having a clue.

    2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts @Matt

  5. Vectorspace Sunday, June 9, 2013

    Congratulations Ehud from all your editors! –vs

  6. sparkseoblog Monday, June 10, 2013

    Bit of a case of Google using it tax money to buy out the competition.

  7. Looks like Google buying out the competition to keep at the top to me…

  8. Terrell Brown Tuesday, June 11, 2013

    I think there is a bigger issue here than providing traffic data and selling ad space. Google is Big Data. They want the traffic data that Waze creates to resell it to traffic app providers, Department of Transportation, predictive modelers, vehicle manufacturers, logistic companies, etc. Basically, they will use this information to battle Inrix, not Apple or Facebook.

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