Tags: Google | buying | Waze | maps

Google Said to Be Buying Waze for $1.1 Billion for Social Maps

Sunday, 09 Jun 2013 06:21 PM

Google Inc. has agreed to acquire map-software provider Waze Inc. for about $1.1 billion, a person with knowledge of the deal said, seeking to keep competitors such as Facebook Inc. from eroding its lead in mobile-navigation programs.

The deal for Waze, based in Palo Alto, California, may be announced as early as Monday, said the person, who asked not to be named because the plans are private.

As consumers shift toward smartphones and tablets and away from personal computers, Facebook and Google are increasing efforts to court customers on the move. Waze, whose mobile app solicits input from more than 40 million users to improve directions and display traffic and road-hazard details, would help Google add social features to its mapping tool, said Greg Sterling, an analyst at Opus Research.

Waze Chief Executive Officer Noam Bardin didn't immediately return a call seeking comment. Paul Solomon, a spokesman in Israel for Mountain View, California-based Google, declined to comment.

The acquisition was reported earlier Sunday by Globes, an Israeli financial daily. Globes listed the price as $1.3 billion.

The deal would let Google, owner of the world's most popular search engine, eliminate a threat to its home-grown navigation app.

"It could be something significantly differentiated from what Google is offering and could grow into a competitor for Google Maps," Sterling said in an interview last month.

Social Mapping

The purchase would also keep a growing provider of mapping software away from other companies, including Facebook, the world's largest social network. Facebook, aiming to bolster its own mobile strategy, offered Waze almost $1 billion last month, two people familiar with the matter said in May.

Waze's mobile app alerts users to potential traffic slowdowns or suggests alternative ways to reach destinations. The service also notifies drivers of road work, speed traps other potential hazards, using input from users. With free tools available over the Web and on mobile devices, Waze generates revenue via location-based advertising.

Waze's investors include Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft Corp., people familiar said last month. Waze raised $30 million in 2011 in a funding round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures Hong Kong. Earlier investors include Qualcomm Ventures, Magma Venture Partners and Vertex Venture Capital in Israel and BlueRun Ventures in Silicon Valley.

App Share

In the U.S., Waze's mapping app attracted 6.3 percent of users on Apple Inc.'s iPhone in April, compared with 32 percent for Google’s navigation tool, according to Onavo Inc., which provides user-engagement data on applications for mobile developers. Waze announced a partnership with IMS Internet Media Services in April to expand in Latin America.

A Google purchase of Waze may still be scrutinized by U.S. regulators for its potential to alter the competitive landscape, Allen Grunes, a former antitrust attorney for the Justice Department in Washington, said last month.

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Google Inc. has agreed to acquire map-software provider Waze Inc. for about $1.1 billion, a person with knowledge of the deal said, seeking to keep competitors such as Facebook Inc. from eroding its lead in mobile-navigation programs.
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2013-21-09
Sunday, 09 Jun 2013 06:21 PM
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