Rumors of a Google buy-out of Israeli navigation app Waze have been floating around for a number of days. But now it is official: Google has confirmed the acquisition it made for $1.03 billion.
This deal comes after months of speculation about which company would charm Waze into a partnership. There was no lack of competition for Google; in the past few months it was reported that both Apple and Facebook entered into negotiations with the startup but each failed to broker a final deal.
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Waze was founded in 2007 with the goal “to outsmart traffic and get everyone the best route to work and back, every day.” The application uses real-time GPS data sourced from its nearly 50 million users to give highly accurate traffic and navigational information. Users also pitch in to edit maps by adding details like speed traps and road construction, as well as gas prices and traffic accidents. The application is currently free and available for both Android and iPhone devices.
According to statements on both Google and Waze’s company blogs, Waze will remain an independent entity, while some of its features may be incorporated into the already popular Google Maps. Additionally, most of the company’s 100 or so employees will remain based in Israel. The exhilarating success for what was previously a relatively unknown startup is also a big success for Google. By buying Waze Google is both eliminating a competitor and keeping that competitor’s technology out of the hands of rivals Apple and Facebook.
Google, which has an office in Israel, has already made some other acquisitions in the country. In 2010 the company bought Labpixies, a personalized website gadget developer, for $25 million. The tech giant also acquired an interactive video-clip development tool, Quiksee, for $10 million in the same year.