Social driving app Waze is attracting its fair share of suitors. Google is reportedly in talks to acquire the company for more than $1 billion, Bloomberg reports, following a report from a few weeks ago that Facebook was eyeing Waze.
It sounds like Waze could be setting itself up for a bidding war between the two companies, and it likely sees itself as more valuable than the $1 billion Facebook paid for photo-sharing app Instagram last year. Other suitors may also join in — Microsoft has reportedly invested in Waze, and the driving app would be a good addition to its Bing Maps.
Waze lets drivers crowdsource driving conditions and other data with its mobile apps, which often give drivers better insight into traffic conditions than other systems. The company may also choose to stay independent and raise another round of funding, Bloomberg notes. Palo Alto, Calif.-based Waze has raised $67 million so far from Kleiner Perkins, BluerRun Ventures, Magma Venture Partners, and others.
If it does come down to a Facebook vs. Google buyout, I’m rooting for Google.
Facebook has no experience with mapping yet, which means it could be some time before it fully taps into Waze’s potential. While snapping up the driving app would be a good way for Facebook to kick-start its mapping ambitions (and it would also work well to support Facebook’s recent local search focus), for Waze it could actually be a step back.
Google, on the other hand, has years of mapping experience — expertise that became clear when Apple tried its hand at maps in iOS 6 with disastrous results. Waze would fit nicely into Google Maps’ mobile turn-by-turn directions, but there’s also a huge amount of potential for the company in Google’s moonshot projects. Imagine Google’s self-driving cars autonomously reporting driving conditions, or Waze integration with Google Glass to give pedestrians the ability to contribute to Waze’s data as well.
Waze’s social elements may seem better suited to Facebook right now, but that’s an area Google is getting better in too. If Waze wants to continue down the road of becoming an essential mapping solution, Google seems like the ideal mate.
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