Google has put an end to the rumors that it has been negotiating to buy Waze with the announcement that it has, in fact, signed a deal with the crowdsourced mapping and navigation company. Google Vice President of Geo Brian McClendon said Waze will remain an independent company for now, and its development team won't be leaving Israel.
It's official: Google bought Waze
Mr. McClendon stated,
The Waze product development team will 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.
We'll also work closely with the vibrant Waze community, who are the DNA of this app, to ensure they have what's needed to grow and prosper.
Waze is a popular turn-by-turn navigation app for the iPhone that improves accuracy and gathers realtime traffic data from its users. The deal will give Google access to the data Waze is collecting and will make it easier for the two companies to collaborate on new features.
Google is promising that even though there will be some feature sharing between its own maps product and Waze, users won't be hit with any big surprises. The Waze team backed that up, saying, "Nothing practical will change here at Waze. We will maintain our community, brand, service and organization – the community hierarchy, responsibilities and processes will remain the same."
The reason behind the deal, according to Waze, was because the company wasn't interested in going public. They chose to strike a deal with Google because of the promise to be able to continue operating as an independent company.
Rumors surfaced earlier this year that Facebook and Google were both negotiating to buy Waze in deals expected to top US$1 billion. Facebook, as well as Apple, already had deals in place with Waze; Facebook for social sharing of locations, and Apple for navigation and location data for its own Maps app. Since Waze gets to continue operating as an independent company, it looks like those deals won't be changing, although that could change some time in the future.