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Report: Facebook to buy Waze for up to $1 billion

Social traffic app Waze is growing quickly, would give Facebook another platform for its mobile ads

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
May 9, 2013 | Comments
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/2f62

Facebook has been on a mobile tear over the past year or so, and that strategy does not seem to be slowing down any time soon.

The social network is now in talks to make an Instagram-sized purchase of social traffic app Waze, it wasreported by Israeli news site Calcalist on Thursday.

The two sides are in "advanced negotiations," which began six months ago, and Facebook is reportedly willing to spend between $800 million and $1 billion for the acquisition. 

"We don't comment on rumor or speculation," a Facebook spokesperson told VatorNews. We reached out to Waze as well, but the company could not be reached for comment.

Waze encourages drivers to get into their cars and share driving conditions and experiences with other members of the online community. In return, Waze provides real-time information on the circulation and short-cuts, while making suggestions for stops along the way. 

It's easy to see why Waze is a hot commodity, as the company is growing quickly. It currently has tripled it number of users in the last year, from 15 million to 45 million, and was downloaded 1.5 million times worldwide in March. The app has 10% of the U.S. navigation app marketshare.

According to the report, if the deal does go through, Facebook would most likely leave Waze alone, rather than trying to incorporate its software into other areas of its service. This is the same strategy that Facebook took when it purchased Instagram, which ultimately led to Instagram reaching 100 million monthly users earlier this year. 

Waze would become another cog in Facebook's mobile ambitions, on which the social network has had an almost laser-like focus for the past year or so. And for good reason.

As of its most recent earnings report, Facebook now has 751 million mobile MAUs (monthly active users), an increase of 54% year-over-year. To compare, Facebook’s desktop versioncurrently has 1.11 billion MAUs, an increase of 23% year-over-year.

Mobile is where the eyes are going for Facebook, and the dollars as well. Mobile accounted for 30% of the company's $1.25 billion ad revenue, up from 23% in the fourth quarter of 2012, and up approximately 14% in the third quarter.

Buying up Waze would give Facebook another platform to display its well-performing mobile ads.

If the deal goes through, this would be the fourth purchase for Facebook this year.

In February, the company bought Microsoft's Atlas online-advertising platform. In March, it picked up the team at design firm Hot Studio and in April it acquired app-support company Parse for $85 million. 

Waze has raised $67 million, most recently $30 million in growth funding in October 2011, led by Horizons Ventures Hong Kong, which manages the private venture investments of Li Ka Shing in the technology sector, the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (KPCB) Digital Growth Fund and iFund. 

(Image source: http://embassies.gov)


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