Social networking giant Facebook is in the late stages of negotiations to buy
Waze, the Israeli crowd-sourcing traffic and map application, for between $800
million and $1 billion, Calcalist reported on Thursday.
Tech Crunch, the
blog that revealed a bid by Apple for the Ra’anana-based company in January,
said it had confirmed the deal through private sources, though spokespeople for
both sides refused to comment.
If the deal goes through at the reported
price, it would be one of the largest acquisitions in Facebook’s history,
rivaling its $1b. purchase of Instagram in April 2012.
to the reports, negotiations began six months ago and stepped up in earnest at
the start of the year, with Facebook representatives visiting Israel three times
One of the major sticking points for Waze, however, is the fear
that Facebook will simply take the top talent and technology and close down the
company’s operations in Israel.
If history is any indicator, that is
Facebook’s plan; it’s exactly the course Facebook took with its first two
acquisitions in Israel, Face.com, which it bought in 2012 for $60m., and Snaptu,
which it bought in 2011 for $70m.
Founded in 2009, Waze already has more
than 34 million subscribers, and expects to reach 70 million by the end of the
year. In October 2012, it raised $30m. in venture capital
While a deal between Apple and Waze – then reportedly stuck at
$400m. – made obvious sense, given the spectacular failure of Apple Maps, the
Facebook link is slightly more murky.
Spotting the trend of increased
mobile usage, Facebook has been trying to convert itself to a mobile
Acquiring Waze could help add to its location-based data and boost
its advertising potential.
Facebook would also be able to offer
advertising to users based on their driving patterns, even before they left
home, and not just based on content. And it could enable friends to share
information while in cars, via both text and voice, about their driving
Exposure through Facebook could boost Waze’s user database as
well, which would enable the company to obtain a better picture of traffic
conditions in different countries and provide more detailed road
maps.Globes contributed to this report.
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