In a blog post on the official Google blog, VP of Geo, Brian McClendon announced that the company had acquired social traffic and mapping company, Waze. “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,” he said.
Recent reports pegged Facebook as a potential suitor for Waze, however, we learned that those talks between Facebook and Waze broke down due to the Waze team wanting to remain in Israel (where they’re headquartered). “The Waze product development team will remain in Israel and operate separately for now,” said McClendon. That “for now” sounds pretty ominous. We’ll see how long they stay out of Mountain View.
Nonetheless, the real interest Google has in Waze is their social data and what that could mean to Google Maps. “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,” McClendon went on to say. We all know how hellbent Larry Page is on making social a huge part of Google, so an acquisition of a social traffic company makes perfect sense.
The U.S. is currently Waze’s largest single market — in April, Waze CEO Noam Bardin noted that 12 million of its (at the time) 45 million users are based there — and this is where the company is putting its growth efforts for now. Waze also recently opened an office on Madison Avenue in New York City in an effort to help monetize. If anything, ad sales is something I’m sure Google could be a great deal of help in for Waze.
Waze had raised around $67 million in funding from Blue Run Ventures, Magma, Vertex, Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers, and Horizon Ventures.