Google has acquired Waze — a social-mapping-location-data company — for between $1 billion and $1.3 billion, according to TechCrunch. For the trigger-happy wonks at TechCrunch, VentureBeat and every other tech blog, the acquisition puts an end to months of rumors and false reports.
It’s also heartening to see that Google is letting the NSA Prism scandal slow down business. Waze, based in Israel, has raised $67 million in funding, and an Israeli business newspaper estimates that some $200 million of the total bounty will go to co-founders Ehud Shabtai, Amir and Gili Shinar, Uri Levine, Ari Gillon and CEO Noam Bardin. The team will remain in Israel, and TechCrunch points out that the crowdsourced-platform may help Google catch up to Facebook in the next generation of social media.
The New York Times ran an in-depth profile of data-mapping startups yesterday, exploring Waze’s map-generating strategy via GPS tracking of its 50 million consumers. About 10% of drivers use Waze in Los Angeles, and Waze users have created ‘the first navigable maps’ of countries like Costa Rica and Malaysia.
Because the app uses volunteer editors, one can see a bit of a resemblance to media startups like The Huffington Post, which piggybacked off the blogging of thousands of unpaid writers before Arianna made off with the $315 million sale to AOL. Data editors, however, may not be as touchy about getting cheated — they’re less likely to be starving post-grads in Brooklyn.