Rumors confirmed: Google acquires Israeli navigation service Waze

waze_splashFor months on end, rumors have persisted that Apple would buy Waze. Then the last four weeks suddenly saw Facebook touted as Waze’s suitor. However, hardly a day after the first rumors surfaced about Big G as potential buyer , Google snapped up the Israel-based navigation service.

Over the last few months, we have exhaustively covered the rumors surrounding Waze. All the more so because the outcome could have a profound impact on the continuing cloak and dagger battle in the maps, navigation and social network arena. After all, with over 50 million active worldwide users, Waze is anything but a small player.

Despite the persistent rumors that Apple or Facebook would buy the Israeli ‘social navigation service’ and make life difficult for Google, the latter turns out the shrewdest.

However, Google will also have to make shrewd use of its wallet. In spite of the absence of hard data, Waze has been valued at approximately $500 million. If we are to believe the rumors, Google has shelled out double the amount, and agreed to the condition that Waze’s current company structure is kept intact for another 3 years.

In the past few years, Waze attracted no less than $67 million in funding from various investment parties, who, so it seems, can now consider themselves the richest of the bunch. According to the Israeli business news portal Globes, the six founders will be left with a ‘mere’ $200 million to divide among themselves

Google’s intentions with Waze are clear enough: the combination of Maps and Waze’s dynamic community will take navigation via Big G’s services to the next level.

We’ll also work closely with the vibrant Waze community, who are the DNA of this app, to ensure they have what’s needed to grow and prosper. The Waze community and its dedicated team have created a great source of timely road corrections and updates. We welcome them to Google and look forward to working with them in our ongoing effort to make a comprehensive, accurate and useful map of the world.

It will become clear in the coming months what the exact impact of this acquisition will be and how we will see it reflected in Google’s services.

In a mutual blog post, both parties confirm that Waze will remain autonomous. Knowing Google, however, the question is just for how long.