Google to Buy Social Mapping Startup Waze
Although Google did not disclose terms of the deal, earlier reports pegged the price at $1.3 billion. If true, Israel-based Waze would be Google's fourth largest acquisition by dollar value. The idea is that buying Waze will eliminate a competitor and help solidify Google's position as a leader in mobile mapping and navigation.
For months, Waze was reportedly entertaining offers from other potential buyers including Apple and Facebook, which continues to lack any sort of substantial map offering. Google says Waze's product development team will remain in Israel. Having to relocate to the U.S. reportedly was a sticking point in Waze's negotiations with Facebook.
Waze, which was launched five years ago, says its app is used in almost 200 countries with 70,000 volunteers who help edit maps and provide other details about construction, gasoline prices and detours. It has 50 million users worldwide.
"Nothing practical will change here at Waze," chief executive Noam Bardin reassured users in a statement online. "The same Waze people will continue to collaborate with you, and we will continue to innovate our product and services, making them more social, functional and helpful for everyday drivers. Our employees, managers, founders and I are all committed to our vision for many years to come."
Waze is seen by many as a free and more dynamic alternative to vehicle navigation products such as Garmin and TomTom, which use maps that aren't updated in real time and can cost upwards of $130 per device.
Benjamin Kabin is a Brooklyn-based technology journalist who specializes in security, startups, venture capital and social media.