Google May Launch Bidding War with Facebook Over Waze: Report

Waze unleashes the power of crowds on traffic.

Here we go again: weeks after news leaked that Facebook was negotiating a $1 billion deal for Waze, the Israeli firm behind the eponymous crowdsourced mapping-and-navigation app, new rumors suggest that Google is also in the running to acquire the company.

According to unnamed sources speaking to Bloomberg May 24, Google is angling to get into a possible bidding war with Facebook over Waze, which apparently wants more than $1 billion. There’s also the possibility that Waze could stay independent and raise venture-capital financing, rather than submit to the will of a particular tech titan.

Waze gives users the ability 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.” Other features include community-edited maps, as well as crowd-sourced reporting on the cheapest gas stations along a selected route.

If reports from the past few months are correct, Facebook and Google haven’t been the only companies kicking Waze’s tires. Back in January, TechCrunch suggested that Apple was debating whether to acquire the company, with executives even negotiating over price-points. While Waze’s crowd-sourced features aren’t necessarily the best fit for Apple, which likes to exert stringent top-down control over its products, Apple’s desperation to improve its homegrown Maps app (which suffered in its early months from inaccurate directions and graphical weirdness) may have driven it to consider the deal.

In any case, Apple never pulled the trigger on the acquisition, and Facebook and Google are now the prime suitors. Of course, Google may also be entering a bidding war solely to ensure that Facebook pays more than it should for the property—the two companies, which compete fiercely for online advertising dollars, don’t exactly have a whole lot of love for one another.

If a deal happens, Waze wouldn’t be the first Israel-based company snatched up by Facebook; previous acquisitions include Snaptu in 2011 (for $70 million) and in 2012 (for $60 million).


Image: Waze