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Is Waze Worth a Billion Dollar Bidding War?

Is Waze Worth a Billion Dollar Bidding War?
By Jennifer LeClaire

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Here's how Waze works: After typing in a destination address, users just drive with the app open on their phone to passively contribute traffic and other road data, but they can also take a more active role by sharing road reports on accidents, police traps, or any other hazards along the way. Google and Facebook are reported making offers for Waze.
 



There's a bidding war going on over a crowd-sourced map application provider. Or so the rumor mill says. Credible sources are pointing to a competition between Google and Facebook for Waze.

Businessweek is driving part of the clamor with its headline, "Google Said to Consider Buying Waze Presaging Bidding War." Three Businessweek reporters teamed on the story, which suggests the company could fetch more than $1 billion.

A bit about Waze: It's a fast-growing community-based traffic and navigation app. Drivers use it to share real-time traffic and road info with the goal of saving gas, money and time during daily commutes.

Keeping It Away from Apple

Greg Sterling, principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, told us Waze would become an asset to any of the major mapping competitors.

"Ironically, Google probably needs it least of all the would-be acquirers," Sterling said. "However, it's probably thinking of bidding to keep Waze away from Facebook or Apple."

Apple needs mapping technology and has been the subject of rumors over mapping technology acquisitions. Apple took heat for a less-than-Apple-like experience with its initial Maps product and even saw some executive shakeup when then-iOS chief Scott Forstall reportedly refused to sign an official apology letter to customers for the poor navigation and quality.

What About Waze?

Waze could not immediately be reached for comment, nor could Google or Facebook. But Waze is making waves on its own. The company earlier this week won a 2013 Webby Award for Best Connected Product.

Here's how it works: After typing in a destination address, users just drive with the app open on their phone to passively contribute traffic and other road data, but they can also take a more active role by sharing road reports on accidents, police traps, or any other hazards along the way, helping to give other users in the area a 'heads-up' about what's to come.

With the crowd-sourcing concept, Waze imagines 30 million drivers out on the roads, working together toward a common goal: to outsmart traffic and get everyone the best route to work and back, every day.

The app alerts drivers before they approach police, accidents, road hazards or traffic jams by tapping into real-time information shared by other drivers. And Waze says its active community of map editors works to constantly improve and update maps.

Waze was initially funded by Blue Run Ventures, Magma Venture Partners and Vertex Venture Capital, and recently received additional funding from Kleiner Perkins and Li Ka-shing's Horizon Ventures. Microsoft is also an investor.
 

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