Facebook seems on the verge of dropping another billion dollars on yet another hot startup.
In this case, the possible target is Waze, a mapping-and-navigation app. The information comes from Israeli business daily Calcalist (Google translation available for readers who can’t understand Hebrew), which indicated that negotiations between the startup and social network are at a fairly advanced stage; that report was subsequently picked up by Reuters and other publications.
Waze allows users to share real-time traffic and road information. “Get alerted before you approach police, accidents, road hazards or traffic jams, all shared by other drivers in real time,” reads the blurb on the company’s Website. “It’s like a personal heads-up from a few million of your friends on the road.” The software also features community-edited maps, as well as crowd-sourced reporting on the cheapest gas stations along particular routes.
According to Reuters, Waze wouldn’t be the first Israel-based company snatched up by Facebook; previous acquisitions include Snaptu in 2011 (for $70 million) and Face.com in 2012 (for $60 million). It’s easy to see Waze’s potential appeal to Facebook—the former’s emphasis on crowd-sourced data makes it a natural fit for the world’s biggest social network, which could be seeking to boost its “real world” functionality as a way to stay relevant and profitable.
But Facebook isn’t the only company sniffing around Waze’s assets. Back in January, TechCrunch reported that Apple was mulling whether to acquire Waze, with executives even haggling over a selling price. Although Apple doesn’t often make high-profile acquisitions, it faces a desperate need to improve its homegrown Maps app, which attracted considerable criticism upon its release over inaccurate directions and graphical weirdness. However, while Waze boasts a massive store of mapping data, it’s unclear how well its crowd-sourced aspect would play with Apple’s traditional desire for tight control over its software’s every facet.
In any case, reports of negotiations with Apple faded away after a few days. Now Facebook’s supposedly in the running, and, if history is any indication, it could very well shell out that billion: after all, that’s how much it paid for Instagram back in 2012.