Was Google’s Waze Buyout Wise? 4 Tech CEOs Weigh In

The deal is getting plenty of thumbs-up from the tech community

   

The Google (GOOG) M&A machine kept moving ahead this week with a $1 billion-plus purchase of digital mapper Waze.

Founded in 2008, the company’s service is based on crowdsourcing and is available on Apple’s (AAPL) iOS and Google’s (GOOG) Android. The app has been growing like a weed, too — its user base rocketed from 7 million to 47 million between 2011 and 2012.

But is the deal worth the 10 digits Google paid? To get some perspective on the deal, I talked to a number of tech-business minds. Here’s what they had to say:

Marcus Nelson, Founder and CEO, Addvocate

“Waze really understands social crowdsourcing. More than any other mapping tool, Waze brought the usefulness of navigation combined with crowdsourced traffic jams, accident updates, and flagging for speed traps. Combining these elements to everyone’s favorite mapping app has ‘win’ written all over it! This acquisition solidifies Google as the mapping application of choice — putting social over offerings from Apple and Mapquest‘s mapping efforts. Facebook (FB) could have benefited as well by creating a new product category for themselves, so they’re the company to have absolutely lost the most from this transaction.”

Kayvon Olomi, Founder, Divvy

“The acquisition of Waze by Google is a smart move. As we have seen in the past couple years, crowdsourcing has started to play a vital contribution in the advances of technology — and how we live. Whether it be from Kickstarter, Airbnb or Lyft, leveraging the ability to tap into large groups of individuals is extremely valuable. With Waze, I believe it will only enhance Google Maps even further and would consider it a setback for Apple and their initiatives with maps.”

James C. Foster, Founder and CEO, Riskive

“Google is continuing to quickly mature and focus its strategy on maintaining its dominance in key markets. In this case, the Waze acquisition was as much a defensive move as an offensive one to keep Facebook, Apple and Microsoft (MSFT) in the rearview mirror. From an investor perspective: Buy Google and Facebook! Continue to short Apple. It is clear that Google and Facebook understand how to acquire companies to merely block the competition (Instagram, Waze, Motorola) and that Apple is still struggling with its inorganic growth strategy.”

Q Beck, Co-Founder and CEO, Famigo

“Google’s acquisition of Waze is instructive in two ways. First, it’s yet another clear signal that Google places a high value on its Google Maps product and sees a significant market opportunity in improving this service. More importantly, the fact that Google — the clear leader in this space — sees value in the products, services and technology developed by small teams that are highly focused on a well-defined problem is great news for the ecosystem. Even established leaders in a given industry can benefit from acquiring highly knowledgeable, specialized teams. Waze will be maintaining independent offices and operations in Israel for the time being, so it will be really interesting to watch how it is eventually integrated into Google.”

Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog IPO Playbook. He is also the author of High-Profit IPO StrategiesAll About Commodities and All About Short Selling. Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.


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