Google Adds Waze to Get You Out of Traffic
Breaking news on the CNBC Disruptor 50 companies seeking to up-end the status quo in the markets.
Google vice president of Geo Brian McClendon wrote in the blog post, "We've all been there: stuck in traffic, frustrated that you chose the wrong route on the drive to work. But imagine if you could see real-time traffic updates from friends and fellow travelers ahead of you, calling out 'fender bender...totally stuck in left lane!' and showing faster routes that others are taking. To help you outsmart traffic, today we're excited to announce we've closed the acquisition of Waze. This fast-growing community of traffic-obsessed drivers is working together to find the best routes from home to work, every day."
A deal for the Israeli-based navigation app was expected once reports surfaced in the press in recent weeks that Facebook was considering an acquisition of the company. Waze reportedly set out to raise an additional round of venture capital but attracted a high degree of interest from acquirers once that process started. Facebook's service is already linked with Waze, and Facebook users can log into the maps app using their existing Facebook credentials.
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After the Facebook talks fell apart, other deep-pocketed Silicon Valley players were expected to pursue the company.
The Waze product development team will remain in Israel and operate separately from Google's in-house Geo team, the company said. Google said its popular Google Maps app will be enhanced with some of the traffic update features provided by Waze, and Waze will be enhanced by Google's search capabilities.
Waze's real-time road corrections and map edits are seen as a competitive edge in the battle for maps app supremacy, which includes Google, Facebook, and Apple, which stumbled in its roll out of a new maps app last year, after removing Google Maps as a pre-loaded app on its devices. Apple CEO Tim Cook even recommended Apple device users rely on Waze, among other navigation apps, during the period of time when Apple was trying to fix problems with its navigation service.
Waze has 47 million users in 193 countries, who generated 90 million user reports as of year-end 2012. Waze has 65,000 members that serve as map editors and who had made 500 million map edits at year-end 2012.
"Disruption means doing much more with less, via radically different methods like the deep collaboration of Waze's Wiki-style mapmaking system," Waze CEO Noam Bardin told CNBC upon being named to the inaugural CNBC Disruptor 50 list.
_ By Eric Rosenbaum