Social network giant to make its biggest buy yet for Israeli mobile sat-nav start-up

TEL AVIV — Facebook is in advanced talks to acquire Israeli mobile satellite navigation start-up Waze for between US$800 million and US$1 billion (S$987 million and S$1.2 billion), business daily Calcalist reported yesterday (May 9).

The deal, which would be Facebook’s largest acquisition, would give the social networking company a mapping service and allow it to better compete with Google and Apple.

 

Maps and navigation services have become a key asset for technology companies as consumers increasingly adopt smartphones and other mobile devices. Waze uses satellite signals from members’ smartphones to generate maps and traffic data, which it then shares with other users, offering real-time traffic info.

Due diligence between Waze and Facebook is under way after a term sheet was signed, Calcalist said, adding that talks began six months ago.

Officials at Waze and Facebook declined to comment on the report.

The four-year-old Waze, which has 47 million users, has raised US$67 million in funding to date from firms including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Blue Run Vntures and semiconductor company Qualcomm.

“A lot of these companies want to own mapping services as opposed to licensing. The advantage is that you could personalise it to your business,” said Raymond James analyst Aaron Kessler.

For Facebook, which has shifted its focus to developing “mobile-first” products, having location-based services is important, he added.

There had been media reports earlier this year that Apple was in talks to acquire Waze. REUTERS

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