Google scoops up Waze in a deal reportedly worth $1.1 billion

Google – not Facebook or Apple – will be the new owner of Israeli mapping app Waze. 

Waze, an Israeli mobile satellite navigation application, is seen on a smartphone in this photo illustration taken in Tel Aviv, Israel on May 9, 2013.

There were rumors it would be Facebook. There was speculation that it might be Apple. 

But today comes the news that Waze, the Israeli map app company, will be actually be snapped up by Google, in a deal that Bloomberg BusinessWeek says is worth a whopping $1.1 billion. In a post on the Google blog, mapping exec Brian McClendon confirmed the acquisition and said that Waze would be used to help increase the quality and depth of Google Maps

"The Waze product development team will remain in Israel and operate separately for now," Mr. McClendon wrote. "We’re excited about the prospect of enhancing Google Maps with some of the traffic update features provided by Waze and enhancing Waze with Google’s search capabilities." 

So hey, what does Google want with Waze? And what is Waze, anyway? We'll answer the second question first: Waze is a mapping application powered both by GPS and by crowd-input. Other users can warn of particularly brutal traffic jams, or suggest better routes, or take note of a closed gas station, and that information will pop up on your screen for other users. 

"This 'social' component differentiates Waze from the leading mobile-map apps, which happen to come from Google and Apple," writes Sam Gustin of Time. "For this reason, Google’s interest in the company is, in part, defensive. Often, when tech juggernauts like Google, Apple and Facebook encounter a start-up that has developed a product that poses a threat, the easiest solution is to simply buy it and remove the competition." 

But we also believe what McClendon said above – that Google believes Waze can strengthen the Google Maps ecosystem. As early as 2007, Google was allowing users to experiment with map creation and the creation of profiles and recommendations that would appear on Google Maps itself. But Waze would bring the social side of Maps to a whole new level, a pretty attractive possibility for users.

And not to get too paranoid about it, but it a pretty attractive possibility for advertisers, too. After all, Google is all about leveraging user input for advertiser gain, from simple search phrases to Google+ wall posts – and soon, to locations entered on its mapping software. 

For more tech news, follow us on Twitter @venturenaut.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to