First it was Apple, then Facebook, and now Google is reportedly interested in the Israeli start-up
Internet services behemoth Google is reportedly trying to buy Waze, the urban navigation and mapping start-up familiar to countless drivers around the world.
Sources close to the matter told Bloomberg Waze is currently being courted by several large online companies, including Google, and is looking for at least $1 billion (£663m) for its business.
Two weeks ago, several reports in Israeli media claimed that Facebook was looking to buy Waze, and was prepared to spend up to $1 billion. Analysts predict that if the rumours are true, it could start a bidding war between two Silicon Valley giants.
Earlier, it was reported that Apple was in talks to acquire Waze for “nearly half a billion dollars” to improve its own Maps service, but no deal was agreed.
Waze for Android and iOS is a free app that learns from users’ driving times and patterns to optimise routing and provide real-time traffic updates. It relies on crowdsourcing for map data and other information – users can report accidents, traffic jams, speed traps, police presence and update roads and landmarks. Waze can also help find the cheapest, closest gas station or a parking space.
By July 2012, Waze had reached 20 million users, and there is an indication this number has already doubled. The software had won the Best Overall Mobile App award at the 2013 Mobile World Congress, beating serious competition.
Sources who wished to remain anonymous have claimed that Waze is currently negotiating with several parties, and is looking for more than $1 billion for the business, no doubt inspired by such high demand. They also said Google approached the start-up after the rumours of Facebook involvement went public.
The company could still choose to remain independent and continue relying on venture capital.
Google could be looking at Waze as the means to improve its popular Maps navigation service and make it more useful to drivers, while at the same time getting its hands on thousands of terabytes of valuable data. The acquisition would also mean Google’s competitors will not be able to use the technology to challenge its dominant position in the navigation software market.
According to Israeli news website Kalkalist, Facebook had started its negations with Waze late last year, and by May was already in the middle of conducting ‘due diligence’. The social network declined to confirm any negotiations.
Earlier, it was reported that Apple was offering half a billion dollars for Waze, in the wake of the disaster that was Apple Maps, but the deal did not go through.
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