First, there was Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL). Then came Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). Now, Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is reportedly getting in on the Waze craze. The rumor that Apple was looking to acquire the crowd-sourced traffic and navigation app was quickly shot down, but the Facebook speculation certainly has some legs to it.
Seeing as how the social network is all about mobile these days, with interests in getting into e-commerce, mapping would play a key role for Facebook. The company also has no in-house mapping service right now.
Bloomberg is reporting that Google is considering a competing bid, which could prevent Facebook from making the purchase. Waze is reportedly looking for over $1 billion, which is the high end of what Facebook is supposedly willing to pay. Bloomberg also notes that Apple's not involved in current bidding rounds.
The Israeli start-up (Bloomberg incorrectly states Waze is based out of Palo Alto, although it has an office there) is now up to 40 million users in its community contributing data. Waze also recently announced a partnership to expand further into Latin America.
Google Maps is already the gold standard in mobile and desktop maps, so the search giant certainly wouldn't need to spend so much on picking up Waze. That's not to say a Waze purchase wouldn't help beef up Google Maps even further, but rather that the move could also easily be construed as a pre-emptive shot at Facebook. Anything that hinders Facebook is worth doing, from Google's perspective. Integrating Waze could also improve Google Maps' social capabilities.
Waze is also one of Apple's data partners for Apple Maps, and Google's hesitation in handing over navigation data was largely why Apple ditched Google in the first place. There's probably a contractual arrangement between Apple and Waze right now, but Google could potentially obtain a bargaining chip for when that contract is up for renewal.
It's also entirely likely that no one will swallow Waze, and that the start-up could continue going it alone privately, potentially raising cash through venture capital firms. No deal is imminent, and Waze could simply walk away from the bids that it's gathered from tech giants.
Waze is starting to look like the prettiest girl at the dance. Will Google or Facebook take it home?