Last week there was a lot of hullabaloo surrounding Apple’s alleged interest in acquiring Waze, the social turn-by-turn navigation company based founded by Israeli’s Ehud Shabtai, Amir Shinar and Uri Levine. In case you’re unfamiliar, Waze uses crowd-sourcing from drivers on the road to provide real time traffic updates. The service also enables users to report traffic jams, road closings, and accidents as they occur. To date, there are over 30 million users using Waze.
Given Apple’s publicized struggles with its own mapping software, it wasn’t hard to believe that the company might be genuinely interested in acquiring Waze. Besides, Apple already does license some of its mapping data from Waze.
Over the past few days, word quickly spread that Apple was going to acquire Waze. And just as quickly, word emerged that the deal would not be happening. Next came reports that Apple made a $500 million offer to acquire the company, only to be rebuffed as Waze and its investors were holding out for a cool $750 million. And following that came reports that Apple was never seriously interested in acquiring Waze in the first place.
It’s really hard to know what’s really going on, but one thing’s for sure – it seems that a lot of tech big wigs have their eyes on Waze.
According to the Israeli-based Haaretz newspaper, senior executives from Waze met with the higher ups at Facebook, Microsoft and Google – all within the last month. And highlighting the serious nature of said talks, the aforementioned meetings were attended by CEOs Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Ballmer. The report notes that all three companies were interested in acquiring the mapping company and even made offers within the last year only to be shot down. Microsoft, in particular, was said to be really interested in striking a deal with Waze. Remember, Microsoft has already invested upwards of $25 million into Waze.
In any event, it appears that either Waze wants to go it alone, or it’s still holding out for a buyout worth hundreds of million dollars more than what some companies are willing to put down. Some of Waze’s investors reportedly are seeking a buyout that values the company at one billion dollars.
So it’s hard to make sense of all these rumors. Is it possible that all of these stories are an attempt by Waze to up the asking price by making it seem like everyone is keen on buying them out? Or, equally plausible, are all of these companies genuinely interested in the company.