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May 24, 2013

Google Competing Against Facebook to Acquire Navigation App Waze

Israeli Company Waze Reportedly Seeking More Than $1B

Google, it seems, may be in a bidding war with Facebook to acquire social-navigation app Waze.

Sources have told Bloomberg Google and several other large technology firms have contacted Waze to discuss acquisition since it became public knowledge earlier this month that the world’s largest social network was courting the Israeli company.

Waze, which has reportedly been in talks with Facebook for the past six months, is asking for more than $1 billion, the sources said. Facebook had hoped to acquire Waze for between $800,000 and $1 billion but, now that Google has entered the fray, it is likely the social media company will up its bid.

It was rumored in January that Apple and Waze were in negotiations with the iPhone maker willing to pay up to half a billion dollars. Sources at the time said Apple had offered $400 million in cash and $100 million in incentives, based on performance.

Waze image

Waze image

Waze, at the time, reportedly wanted at least $750 million which, perhaps, is why nothing came of the deal then. While a source said Apple is not one of the company’s current suitors, it is not known if the iPhone maker has decided the price is too steep or if it may yet enter the competition.

Bloomberg’s sources also indicated Waze may turn down all of the offers and, instead, try to raise a round of venture capital financing in a bid to remain independent.

Waze, the world’s fastest-growing community-based traffic and navigation app, has more than 30 million users who share current traffic information wherever they are driving.

“Imagine 30 million drivers out on the roads, working together toward a common goal: to outsmart traffic and get everyone the best route to work and back, every day,” the website reads. “Get alerted before you approach police, accidents, road hazards or traffic jams, all shared by other drivers in real time. It’s like a personal heads-up from a few million of your friends on the road.”

An “active community” of Waze map editors are continuously improving and updating the app to reflect changes in a bid to improve users’ driving experience.

As technology companies like Facebook and Google continue to expand their mobile offerings, Waze would be an attractive addition, especially as the popularity of mapping apps continues to rise.

Waze was initially funded by the Blue Run Ventures, Magma Venture Partners and Vertex Venture Capital and recently received additional funding from Kleiner Perkins and Li Ka-shing’s Horizon Ventures, according to the company’s website.

The Bloomberg article indicated Microsoft was also an investor.