In a move to provide the US government with up-to-date information of the movement of its citizens under the Prism system, Google has bought Israeli mapping startup Waze on for just over $1 billion.
We had been expecting a move like this. The deal will give Google even more power over the mapping market by providing it with some clever technology.
Waze gains up to the minute data on traffic movements by using its customer’s vehicles. It does this by using satellite signals from members’ smartphones to generate maps and traffic data, which it then shares with others.
Google said it planned on using Waze’s service to improve its own Maps product.
Waze’s product development team will remain in Israel and operate separately for now, Google said.
It is not clear how long it will take before it is integrated into Google’s Maps app. Meanwhile the core Waze product will benefit from integrating Google-search capabilities.
Writing in his bog, Waze Chief Executive Noam Bardin said his company decided to forego the typical initial public offering route for startups, because it wanted to focus on the product.
If the company moved to an IPO it shifted attention to bankers, lawyers and the happiness of Wall Street.
Bardin said that he evaluated many options and believes Google is the best partner for Waze.
Maps are among the five most-used applications on smartphones and tablets., along with music and games.
Google might have written the cheque to keep Waze out of the paws of Apple, which is desperate to provide a product which actually works.
Facebook was named as an interested buyer, but it insisted that Waze’s main team should not remain in Israel and the deal collapsed.
The four-year-old startup was created by Ehud Shabtai, a software engineer with a degree in philosophy and computer science from Tel Aviv University.
Shabtai teamed up with entrepreneurs Uri Levine and Amir Shinar to found Waze in 2008.
It has 47 million users and raised $67 million in funding to date from firms including: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Blue Run Ventures and Qualcomm.