Google Confirms Waze Acquisition

Google confirmed reports earlier this week that it has acquired Israel-based satellite-navigation startup Waze, which had been in talks with Facebook until those discussions were reportedly tabled late last month.

Terms were not disclosed, but reports have put the value of the transaction at between $1 billion and $1.3 billion, with a source telling TechCrunch the final tally was $1.1 billion.

One of the major sticking points in the talks between Facebook and Waze was the social network’s intention to shutter the startup’s development center in Israel and relocate some employees to its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., while Israeli business news site Globes reported earlier this week that Google made no such demands, pointing out that the company has an office in Israel.

Google Vice President, Geo Brian McClendon announced the Waze acquisition in a post on the Google Blog:

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 that 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.

The Waze product development team will remain in Israel and operate separately for now. We’re excited about the prospect of enhancing Google Maps with some of the traffic update features provided by Waze and enhancing Waze with Google’s search capabilities.

We’ll also work closely with the vibrant Waze community, who are the DNA of this application, to ensure that they have what’s needed to grow and prosper.

The Waze community and its dedicated team have created a great source of timely road corrections and updates. We welcome them to Google and look forward to working with them in our ongoing effort to make a comprehensive, accurate, and useful map of the world.

And CEO Noam Bardin followed up in a post on his company’s blog:

I am excited to announce today that we have accepted an offer to join Google. I’d like to share some information about what this means for Waze.

Larry Page, Brian McClendon, and the Google Maps teams have been following our progress closely and are excited about what we’ve accomplished. They share our vision of a global mapping service, updated in real-time by local communities, and wish to help us accelerate. We are excited about the prospect of working with the Google Maps team to enhance our search capabilities and to join them in their ongoing efforts to build the best map of the world.

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. The same Waze people will continue to collaborate with you, and we will continue to innovate our products and services, making them more social, functional, and helpful for everyday drivers. Our employees, managers, founders, and I are all committed to our vision for many years to come.

Why not stay completely independent? We asked ourselves: “Will Waze still be a fun project to participate in, and a fun place to work, as a stand-alone public company?” Choosing the path of an initial public offering often shifts attention to bankers, lawyers, and the happiness of Wall Street, and we decided we’d rather spend our time with you, the Waze community. Google is committed to help us achieve our common goal and provide us with the independence and resources we need to succeed. We evaluated many options and believe Google is the best partner for Waze, our map editors, area managers, champs, and nearly 50 million Wazers globally.

Together, we can accelerate our mission to outsmart traffic. We will continue to make a real impact on drivers globally, helping them save time and money, while making everyone’s daily commute a bit more efficient and fun.

So, it’s back to work for us with some great new colleagues and resources to enhance our project. Thank you for your participation in shaping Waze to what it is today, and we look forward to continuing to build out Waze together with you.

Readers: Are you surprised that Facebook dropped out of the race for Waze?

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