Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A new social direction for Google Maps as company acquires Waze

As was rumored on Monday, Google and Waze announced on Tuesday that the Internet giant had added a social aspect to its mapping catalog, by buying Waze.

Although neither company mentioned a price in their posts regarding the deal, sources familiar with the acquisition said the deal was worth $1 billion in cash, plus $100 million in performance payouts in cash and possibly stock to the Waze team.

Waze CEO Noam Bardin wrote in his blog post that Waze wasn't really interested in an IPO. Instead, the company wanted to spend time with the rest of the Waze community (although, obviously, money certainly spoke to the firm).
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.
Google said that "the Waze product development team will remain in Israel and operate separately." However, it ended that sentence with two words: "for now."

Facebook and Apple were both previously mentioned as possible suitors for the company.  However, Apple has said it did not make a bid for the company, and Facebook - Waze negotiations fell apart last week.

Waze is available on both iOS and Android, and has a social aspect to it, which is what attracted Facebook. Not only do users crowdsource accidents, police, traffic and more, they also participate in correcting map and navigation errors. Doing so earns users "points" that add a sort of gaming aspect to the app.

Speaking of navigation issues, while attempting to travel to the Exploratorium last weekend, we used Waze. Unfortunately, it navigated us to the old location of the tourist attraction, not the new revamped one at Pier 15.

On the positive side, a Wazer fixed the issue within 24 hours (though, typical of Waze changes, it might take up to 10 days for the change to become public).

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