Google buys Israel’s Waze to keep mobile maps lead

12 06 2013

waze_logoGoogle Inc.’s $1.03 billion purchase of Israeli navigation software maker Waze marks an important milestone for the country that affectionately calls itself “Start-Up Nation.”Google’s acquisition ranks among the largest purchases of an Internet company this year.

The acquisition is not only among the largest-ever purchase prices for an Israeli start-up. It also cements a recent push by the local high-tech industry into the fast-growing consumer market.

“I think it’s a big step forward,” said Erel Margalit, a leading Israeli entrepreneur and opposition lawmaker in parliament. “Israel is no longer just a R&D center. It’s a creative hub.”

Waze is a company that makes a popular and fast growing mapping app available for iOS and Android devices. The snappy official description is as follows “Waze is the world’s fastest-growing community-based traffic and navigation app. Join other drivers in your area who share real-time traffic and road info, saving everyone time and gas money on their daily commute.” The company points out that real people providing real-time info on road conditions is of great utility for navigation and can help you “outsmart traffic” every day.

Four-year-old Waze was the brainchild of Ehud Shabtai, a software engineer with a degree in philosophy and computer science from Tel Aviv University, who hit upon the idea when he realized commercially available GPS software could not reflect real-time conditions speedily enough, or provide certain useful data – such as speed traps.

According to Waze’s website, Shabtai teamed up with entrepreneurs Uri Levine and Amir Shinar to found Waze in 2008. It now has 47 million users, raising $67 million in funding to date from firms including: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Blue Run Ventures and semiconductor company Qualcomm Inc.

Sources: 1 2 3


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