Google joins Waze acquisition race: report

Will tech giants Facebook and Google end up in a bidding war over the startup?
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

Google is considering buying mobile satellite navigation firm Waze, potentially bringing the tech firm into direct competition with Facebook.


According to Bloomberg, the search engine giant is interested in the Israeli startup, which produces an app that gathers and correlates data from online communities and forums in order to improve driving directions. The map software provider has also caught Facebook's eye; earlier reports suggesting that the social media company is looking to pay up to $1 billion to acquire Waze. Google is considering the same figure.

Citing anonymous sources familiar with the matter, the publication says that Waze is seeking over $1 billion from potential bidders, and multiple firms have expressed interest in the startup; more parties coming forward once the potential Facebook deal became public.

Although several companies are interested, none are close to securing a deal with Waze.

It is not certain whether the startup will choose to be acquired or remain independent; instead deciding to pursue additional venture backing to expand the firm's mapping services. To date, the company has managed to secure $67 million in funding.

As mobile devices become increasingly popular, map and navigation services have become extremely important for companies looking to get ahead of the competition. If Google manages to secure the startup, not only will it keep Waze information, subscribers and technology out of rival company hands, but real-time updates could become a valuable addition to Google's popular Maps service.

Apple is not part of the talks, although past rumors suggested the company was gunning to buy Waze for $400 million.

Waze, coming in to its fourth year, currently has 100 employees -- 11 of which are based in the U.S., whereas the remainder are stationed in Israel. The company uses satellite signals from 47 million Waze community member smartphones to correlate data and offer real-time traffic and navigation updates, alternative routes and alerts users to the presence of speed cameras and road works. The service is free but supported with advertising.

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