Will Facebook Buy Israeli Navigation App Waze

Let the jokes begin. From the people who wandered in the desert for 40 years comes the best navigational app so far. Waze, an Israeli crowdsourced navigation mobile application, has been growing in popularity over the past couple years. And in the past half a year there have been more than a few rumors that Waze was on the verge of being bought by Apple and Facebook. Those deals never materialized and some say it was because Uri Levine and his investment partners at Waze were holding out for more.

Waze Israel

Now, it seems that Facebook has brought an offer that can’t be refused. The estimated purchase price is between $800 million and $1 billion. Not a small amount of money for a company that has only been around a few years. Waze Ltd.,originally called Linqmap, was founded in 2008 in Israel by Levine, software engineer Ehud Shabtai, and Amir Shinar. The company won the Best Overall Mobile App award at the 2013 Mobile World Congress, beating out such popular apps as Dropbox and Flipboard.

Waze offers turn-by-turn directions for drivers like other GPS navigation apps, but it also updates local and highway maps based on user input and traffic patterns. The crowdsourcing advantage to Waze is that its mapping system is more accurate than any of the commercial GPS systems available because the maps are constantly updated by drivers who report on road closures and openings, construction, new roads and alternative routes. The app also provides real-time fuel prices based on user feedback. According to Waze, there were 20 million users in June 2012, having doubled in 6 months. According to TechCrunch.com “adding Waze to Facebook makes a lot of sense in some respects: Facebook has been putting a lot of effort into its mobile business, which now has 751 million monthly active users as of March 31, 2013, an increase of 54% year-over-year. That puts mobile on a faster track at the moment than Facebook’s desktop business, which currently has 1.11 billion MAUs, an increase of 23 percent year-over-year.”

According to Calcalist, the Hebrew business daily, Facebook would pay half the purchase price in cash and the rest in company stock. Much of the deal hasn’t been negotiated and it’s currently unknown if Waze’s research and development would remain in Israel. Waze’s sales group, however, would be integrated into Facebook’s corporate organization.

Waze grew in popularity last year when Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, recommended Waze as an alternative to the troubled Apple Maps on the new operating system, which many users found to be inaccurate. If Facebook buys Waze, it would be its third acquisition in Israel. The social network bought mobile application platform Snaptu in 2011 for $70 million, and face recognition firm Face.com in 2012 for $60 million.

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Jewish Techs: The Jewish Technology Blog

This blog looks at how modern technology affects Jewish life, particularly the impact of the Internet on Jews across the globe. The Internet has made the Jewish community seem smaller. The Jewish Techs blog, written by blogger Rabbi Jason Miller (The Techie Rabbi), explores the places where Jewish culture, education and faith intersect with technology. Of course, like anything, Jews will continue to ask if technology is good or bad for the Jews – the age old question of our people. Good or bad, it is undisputed that technology has changed Jewish life. If you’re Jewish or interested in technology or both… you’ll enjoy the conversation. Thanks for reading the Jewish Techs blog.

The Techie Rabbi – Rabbi Jason Miller

Rabbi Jason Miller, the Techie RabbiJason Miller is NOT your typical rabbi. Known as the Techie Rabbi, he launched Access Computer Technology in 2010 and has grown it into a full-scale technology firm that provides social media marketing consulting and web design in addition to IT support. Ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary a decade ago, Rabbi Jason has made a name for himself as a popular blogger, social media expert, educator and entrepreneur. Based in Detroit, his congregation includes more than a million people who read his blog and follow him in Cyberspace. He began the Jewish Techs blog in January 2010 as the New York Jewish Week's technology expert.

An entrepreneurial rabbi and an alum of Clal's "Rabbi Without Borders" fellowship, Jason Miller is a rabbi and thought leader whose personal blog has been viewed by millions. The Detroit Free Press called him “the most tech-savvy Jewish leader" and the Huffington Post ranked him among the top Jewish Twitter users in the world. A social media expert, Rabbi Jason is a popular speaker and writer on technology and its effect on the Jewish world. He writes the "Jewish Techs" blog for The Jewish Week and the monthly "Jews in the Digital Age" column for the Detroit Jewish News.

Miller won the 2012 Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award from the West Bloomfield Chamber of Commerce and is one of the winners of a Jewish Influencer award from the National Jewish Outreach Program.