Google's Turn to Bid - Will Waze find $1.3B Offer Enough to Put it on Google's Map?

By Tony Rizzo June 10, 2013

It's all kind of crazy when you think about it - $1.3 billion for a 100-person company that is mostly based in Israel (though officially it is headquartered much closer to Apple in Palo Alto, Calif.). Of course Waze also happens to be nearing 50 million avid users (of which we are one) and makes great use of the social media and social networking arts to allow the Waze mapping technology to provide real time alerts of "up ahead" road conditions, real-time based ETAs that have, in our own experiences proven remarkably accurate, and alerts and work-arounds to traffic jams.

Very recently we were stuck in parking lot traffic on a major parkway. Just before we hit the jam, Waze alerted us to imminent danger and provided a very interesting re-route that consisted of traveling through a number of suburbs and consisted of a hundred different short left and right turns that would have eventually put us back on our parkway approximately six miles further down than where we were. The only problem here is personally we hate traveling though endless suburban streets more than we hate sitting in bad traffic.

We'd rather sit back and listen to some music than maneuver around endless streets with lots of local cars making left and right turns out of or into malls, and - you get the picture. But if you wanted to maybe save a couple of minutes doing that, Waze is certainly there to guide you through it.

Here are a couple of thoughts - when Apple first appeared on the scene as a Waze suitor we were pleased with the idea - as iPhone and iPad users we would not have been unhappy with using Apple's resources to significantly build out what Waze could do for us. Sure, it might have ended up shutting out Android users, but we were on board. The Apple possibility flamed out rather quickly in any case.

Then there was the Facebook rumor- a Facebook offer of $1 billion to bring Waze in-house and give Facebook some powerful new avenues for not only distributing advertising, but also to better target those ads. Waze offers a variety of interesting possibilities for ad targeting. It would be a win for Facebook but, given Facebook's resources, it would likely be a win for Waze as well - for both development and subscriber growth. Immediately after the rumors surfaced, the deal apparently flamed out with Facebook as well.

And now we have Google supposedly putting Waze into play for an absurd number of dollars - but it's all about speed to market and the dollars are ultimately a mere rounding error for Google. There is no need to elaborate on how Waze and Google will find ways to build on each other's already extant capabilities. The synergies are clearly there. Waze's core features are not available on Google Maps - or not nearly as well developed. Why not simply take Waze out of play for competitors - who also lack the Waze core features?

Would Google bring an integrated next generation of Google Maps and Waze to iOS however? There is no reason to think it would not, though there is also plenty of reason Google might consider keeping Waze capabilities off of iOS.

We'll leave it at that. Given the previous Waze propensities for M&A flameouts, we'll simply wait for more solid news to develop here before we think much more about possibilities.

Should we predict that this too will flame out and that next up Microsoft will bid for an über-absurd $1.5 billion?  Heck, why not!

Edited by Alisen Downey

TechZone360 Senior Editor

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