Google has closed its deal to buy Waze, a popular social mapping start-up, for the price of about $1 billion. Both Google and Waze declined to have any executives available for an interview about the sale, but several executives released statements after the deal was completed. Although Google did not disclose the purchase price in its announcement of the deal, a person with knowledge of the deal said it was $1.03 billion.
Google’s acquisition highlights the importance of companies that have learned how to make use of location data. Location data has become increasingly important in our highly mobile world. Consumers use location data for a variety of activities, including finding a place to eat or navigating an unfamiliar road.
Waze features real-time traffic data provided by users to help drivers find the fastest route to a destination. Waze tracks users’ movements passively via GPS to generate live information about roads and traffic. Users can submit additional information about accidents, police speed traps and road hazards they encounter on their travels.
Waze has a base of nearly 50 million users around the world. Each month, nearly one-third of them use the app to access the company’s directions. Google intends to keep Waze separate from its Maps service, however some of Waze’s real-time traffic data will be incorporated into Google Maps and Google plans to add some its search capabilities into Waze. Google vice president Brian McClendon said, “We’ll also work closely with the vibrant Waze community, who are the DNA of this app, to ensure they have what’s needed to grow and prosper.”
In a separate statement, Waze’s chief executive Noam Bardin said, “Nothing practical will change here at Waze. We will maintain our community, brand, service and organization — the community hierarchy, responsibilities and processes will remain the same.” Mr. Bardin and other Waze employees plan to remain with the company.