Google close to securing map startup Waze

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Just a few weeks after we reported that Google was in talks with Israel startup  Waze, it seems that Tech giant Google is even closer to finalizing a deal to purchase Waze, an Israeli-based startup.

Citing anonymous sources, Bloomberg says that the startup will be purchased for $1.3 billion, a report coinciding with a similar article by financial newspaper Globes. The publication says that a deal could be reached and announced as early as this week, putting an end to months of negotiation. The Google deal would keep Waze and its CEO, Noam Bardin, in Israel for the next three years and allow it to remain independent and retain its brand.

If a deal with Google goes ahead, it could be one of the Internet giant’s most expensive acquisitions to date. Some of the most expensive purchases include Motorola Mobility in 2011 for $12.5 billion, online advertising firm DoubleClick in 2007 for $3.2 billion, and YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006.

Other contenders in the startup include apple and Facebook, although currently the deal seems to favor Google more.

Waze uses crowdsourced information to update traffic and navigation services in real-time through Android and iOS applications. The firm’s website says it helps roughly 47 million users “outsmart traffic and get everyone the best route to work and back, every day.”

The free application is ad-supported, used in 190 countries and draws on GPS information to improve maps. In addition, a dedicated forum of drivers contribute to the project by refining routes and adding warnings for traffic accidents and speed cameras.

In recent months, Google has focused on personalizing the Google Maps experience by adding local business ratings and friend visits based on search histories. It is possible that adding Waze could contribute much to this cause by offering Google a ready-made network of friends to be integrated within the tech giant’s map service if they are already using the application.

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