Google Confirms Acquisition of Israeli Navigation App Waze

Google, which is believed to have acquired Waze for $1.03 billion, says mobile app's development team will remain in Israel for the time being.

It's official, Google announced on Tuesday: The search engine company is buying Waze, the Israeli navigation app startup.

"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," Google reported on its official blog.

The company didn't provide many further details, but it is believed to have paid $1.03 billion for Waze. It said the Waze product development team would remain in Israel and operate separately "for now."

"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," Google said.

The deal comes less than two weeks after talks with Facebook on a similarly priced deal collapsed apparently over the issue of the U.S. social media company's insistence that Waze's operation be folded into the company's California headquarters.

Waze is a crowd-sourced, mobile-oriented navigation application for drivers, which relies on information provided by its 47.5 million members to populate its maps. Mapping services are among the five most-used applications on smartphones and are crucial to engaging and retaining mobile users.

Waze is owned by a group of local and foreign investors, including the Israeli venture capital funds Magma and Vertex. Chinese investor Li Ka Shing invested $30 million in the company via Horizon Ventures in October 2011. Other investors include the U.S. VC funds Kleiner Perkins and Blue Run Ventures as well as the U.S. tech companies Microsoft and Qualcomm.

Altogether some $67 million has been invested in the company since it was established in 2008 by Ehud Shabtai, Amir Shinar and Uri Levine.

Bloomberg