Google has acquired Israeli location based service startup Waze for an undisclosed amount. In a blogpost, Google states that the Waze product development team will continue to work in Israel and will operate separately for now.
While Google has not disclosed the exact amount for which it acquired the company, Israeli tech blog GeekTime puts the final number at $1.1 billion of which $1.03 billion will be transferred in cash directly to the company and its stockholders and $100 million will be awarded to employees based on performance. Launched in 2007, Waze had raised $67 million in funding from Blue Run Ventures, Magma, Vertex, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, and Horizon Ventures.
Waze is a social traffic & navigation app which provides directions to drivers. In return, Waze collects data from user’s GPS to generate traffic data in real time. Besides this, Waze users can also share road reports on accidents, police traps, or any other kind of natural hazards on its way. Waze has around 50 million users.
What this means: Google has already heavily invested in its location based navigation service Google Maps to provide maps, directions, street view, real-time traffic information, among others. Following Waze acquisition, Google plans to integrate its real time traffic information into Google Maps real time traffic information. Since the data is crowd-sourced by Waze, we believe it will improve traffic information drastically. While a blogpost by Waze states that it will be working with the Google Maps team to enhance its search capabilities.
While Waze, which is completely a user driven community, has not arrived in India officially, Waze have been actively looking for India Area Managers who moderate the maps.
Also note that Apple and Facebook were also interested in acquiring Waze. Talks with Facebook reportedly fell through as Waze didn’t want to relocate elsewhere after the acquisition. Apple and Waze denied that they had any talks for an acquisition, although after looking at Apple Maps, we feel Apple should have invested in location based services. With the acquisition, Google has not only managed to keep both, Facebook and Apple, away from Waze’s mapping service, it has also managed to acquire a highly engaged social community, something which Google is incapable of creating themselves (read: Buzz, Google+, and Google Reader).
Location based service for Traffic information:
Other players that provides traffic information in India are Traffline which provides real time traffic updates to commuters by using available GPS data sourced from cabs and buses that are already on city roads. Nokia Navigation also recently extended real time traffic updates on web based maps to mobile maps and navigation app, Nokia Drive, on its Symbian and Windows Phone smartphones. Apart from that MapMyIndia also provides real time traffic updates in select few places.