Google Inc. (Nasdaq: GOOG) has reportedly agreed to buy Waze, a satellite mapping and navigation startup, for about $1.1 billion.
Citing a person with knowledge of the deal, Bloomberg News reported that Google and Waze are scheduled to announce the deal as early as Monday.
Social networking giant Facebook (Nasdaq:FB) also was in advanced talks with Palo Alto, Calif.-based Waze for a similar deal, media reports said. But, Facebook reportedly ended its bid to buy the company, which makes mapping software, after both the companies failed to reach an agreement over relocating the Waze team.
Facebook apparently wanted to shift the team out of Israel, where all of its employees are located, while Waze insisted that its employees should continue in Israel.
Israeli financial daily Globes on Sunday reported that Google will acquire Waze for $1.3 billion. Google has been in talks with Waze for a sale since at least May 23, the report said.
This purchase will mark the Mountain View, Calif.-based search giant's third acquisition in Israel, after its buyout of Labpixies, a personalized Website gadget developer, for $25 million, and the purchase of Quiksee, an interactive video-clip developer, for $10 million, both in 2010.
The acquisition is expected to give Google an edge over its rival Apple Inc. (Nasdaq:AAPL), which is trying hard to make inroads into the maps and navigation business, and strengthen its own navigation application with social features.
“Google needs to maintain supremacy in maps, as they are a key to mobile advertising,” Andrew Frank, an analyst at Gartner Inc., told Bloomberg, in an e-mail. “They need more ways to shore up their social efforts.”
Waze uses satellite signals from members' smartphones to generate maps and traffic data, which it then shares with other users, offering real-time traffic information, road work and other hazards. Waze’s mobile app runs on Apple’s iOS operating system and Google’s Android software.
Last year, Waze tripled its user base to 45 million and, in March alone, 1.5 million users downloaded the free mobile navigation app, according to Calcalist.