May 9, 2013
Rumors Of A Facebook-Waze Buyout Gather Momentum
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Three Israeli news sources are claiming that Facebook has plans to spend up to another $1 billion on popular mapping app Waze. According to Calcalist, The Marker and Ynet, Facebook is already in the advanced stages of negotiations to buy the Israeli company. The deal is reportedly now six months in the making, a fact which TechCrunch said they were able to confirm independently.
Waze, a crowdsourced mapping company that uses location data from their users to deliver real-time traffic info, has already partnered with Facebook at a basic level by allowing users to share their drive with their friends. This could be yet another move by Facebook to strengthen their mobile game, an especially important undertaking in the weeks following the introduction of Facebook Home, their suite of apps for Android.
According to a variety of news sources, the main sticking point in the negotiations is whether to keep Waze in Israel or move the company to the states. When asked by TechCrunch for a comment, spokespersons at Facebook and Waze declined.
“We do not comment on rumors or speculation about the business,” responded a spokesperson for Waze, followed by a flat “We won´t comment on speculation,” from Facebook.
The deal is expected to cost Facebook an estimated $800 million to $1 billion Calcalist predicts. Waze could earn this money in a 50/50 split between cash and stocks. The Marker, on the other hand, expects a 40/60 split.
The Marker also claims that Waze´s CEO Noam Bardin Wise insists on keeping the company´s main operations in Israel rather than moving to Facebook´s HQ in Silicon Valley. Facebook´s previous Israeli acquisitions, Snaptu and Face.com, each had their offices moved to Menlo Park, a move Bardin might not be too keen on.
This isn´t the first time rumors have flown around about a possible Waze acquisition. Apple had been rumored to be in talks to buy Waze in a deal that never happened. An Apple acquisition may have made more sense; when they set out to create their own Maps app with their own mapping data, they turned to TomTom and Waze to flesh out their application.
Waze also began as an iOS app, recruiting their users to act as roving traffic reporters. When the app is open, the user´s phone sends back GPS and location data, including speed. When Waze detects a user driving at, say, 20 miles per hour on a 70-miles-per-hour highway, it can alert other drivers in the area that a traffic jam is ahead. Users can also manually send in accident reports, traffic jam reports, and even reports of speed traps or stalled out vehicles.
In the weeks leading up to Apple´s Maps announcement, Waze also integrated multiple stops and gas information into the app, giving users the ability to search for the best gas prices in the area. Should a lower price be found somewhere off the highway, Waze gives directions to and from the station and has even worked some deals with select gas stations to offer specials to Waze users only.