It's official: Google and Waze confirm acquisition

Steven Loeb · June 11, 2013 · Short URL:

No financial details released, Waze will remain in Israel for the time being

Google and Waze have now both confirmed what we already basically knew: Google is buying the Israeli social traffic app.

"We’ve all been there: stuck in traffic, frustrated that you chose the wrong route on the drive to work. But imagine if you could see real-time traffic updates from friends and fellow travelers ahead of you, calling out “fender bender...totally stuck in left lane!” and showing faster routes that others are taking," Brian McClendon, Vice President of Geo at Google, wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

"To help you outsmart traffic, today we’re excited to announce we’ve closed the acquisition of Waze. This fast-growing community of traffic-obsessed drivers is working together to find the best routes from home to work, every day."

The Waze team "will remain in Israel and operate separately for now," McClendon said, which matches up to previous reports of negotiations between Waze and Facebook over that very issue. Waze wanted its employees to continue working in Israel, which Facebook, apparently, would not agree to.

Google, on the other hand has, has a presence in the country, having purchased two Israeli startups: personalized Website gadget developer Labpixies for $25 million, and interactive video-clip developer Quiksee for $10 million.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, though it was reported earlier this week that Google would be spending $1.3 billion on the company. That price tag also matched reports that had come out saying that Waze was seeking more than the $800 million to $1 billion dollar amount that Facebook had been offering, and that Google seemed to be interested in being the company to best that bid.

"We are not disclosing the terms of the deal," a Google spokesperson told VatorNews.

Waze CEO Noam Bardin explained why he chose to sell Waze, instead of taking the company public, in a post on the Waze blog Tuesday. 

"Why not stay completely independent? We asked ourselves: 'Will Waze still be a fun project to participate in, and a fun place to work, as a stand-alone public company?' Choosing the path of an IPO often shifts attention to bankers, lawyers and the happiness of Wall Street, and we decided we’d rather spend our time with you, the Waze community," he wrote.

"Google is committed to help us achieve our common goal and provide us with the independence and resources we need to succeed. We evaluated many options and believe Google is the best partner for Waze, our map editors, area managers, champs and nearly 50 million Wazers globally."

He also reiterated that "nothing practical will change here at Waze," noting that "the company will retain its "community, brand, service and organization – the community hierarchy, responsibilities and processes will remain the same."

Waze, which was founded in 2007, is a navigation app with a crowd-sourcing twist: it 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

The app has almost 50 million users and the company 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.

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