Facebook may buy mapping site Waze as it seeks to know more about users
Facebook’s interest in Waze is enough to signal to the outside that interest in tech services, such as Waze’s mapping, is more than just a passing fancy.
Facebook Inc., owner of the world’s most popular social-networking service, is in talks to acquire mobile-mapping application provider Waze Inc. for as much as $1 billion, two people familiar with the matter said.
The talks to acquire Palo Alto, California-based Waze are not final and a deal may not happen, said the people, who asked not be identified because the talks are not completed.
Facebook, facing competition from Apple Inc. and Google Inc., is adding more features for users who are increasingly turning to smartphones and tablets to access the social- networking service. At $1 billion, an acquisition of Waze would be Facebook’s largest-ever deal after it spent more than $700 million to buy mobile photo-sharing service Instagram last year.
Waze raised $30 million in 2011 in a funding round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing’s Horizons Ventures Hong Kong.
Last month, Waze announced a partnership with IMS Internet Media Services to expand in Latin America. Waze said at the time that it had more than 40 million users.
Waze CEO Noam Bardin and Tucker Bounds, a spokesman for Facebook, declined to comment.
Waze uses information from online communities to improve driving routes. The mobile app alerts users to potential traffic slowdowns or suggest new ways to reach destinations. The service also notifies drivers of speed traps, roadwork and other hazards, thanks to input from users. Waze, a free service, generates revenue via location-based advertising.
News of discussions between Facebook and Waze was reported May 9 by the Calcalist newspaper.
With assistance from Adam Satariano in San Francisco. Editors: Reed Stevenson, Stephen West. To contact the reporters on this story: Ari Levy in San Francisco at firstname.lastname@example.org; Brian Womack in San Francisco at email@example.com. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at firstname.lastname@example.org.