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Waze Has Means

Google close to buying Israeli start-up for $1.3 billion

Liel Leibovitz
June 10, 2013
Waze app screenshots.(AutoWeek)
Waze app screenshots.(AutoWeek)

In Israel, where driving is a contact sport, Waze is the referee. Developed in 2008, the application is a free social GPS service, which allows drivers to share information about traffic jams, police speed traps, and other location-specific alerts. Israelis loved it, and so did the rest of the world: With more than 36 million users worldwide, there’s no doubt that Waze is a worthwhile piece of technology.

But is it worth more than a billion dollars?

That seems to be the case, with Google reportedly close to buying the Israeli company for $1.3 billion. The news comes just days after reports of an imminent deal between Waze and Facebook, and it’s likely that one reason the search giant agreed to the steep price tag was to keep its ascendant rival, the social network, out of the race.

Also, unlike most Israeli technology companies, for whom being bought by an American conglomerate is the ultimate end goal, Waze reportedly insisted on its developing center staying in Israel for the next three years. Driving in Israel is not as pleasant as driving in Silicon Valley, but when it comes to making the commute of Waze’s employees more palatable, at least there’s an app for that.

Liel Leibovitz is editor-at-large for Tablet Magazine and a host of its weekly culture podcast Unorthodox and daily Talmud podcast Take One. He is the editor of Zionism: The Tablet Guide.