Reuters is reporting that Facebook is in talks to acquire Israeli start-up Waze Mobile for $800 million to $1 billion.
If successful, the Waze acquisition will be Facebook's biggest purchase yet following Instagram in September 2012, and will give the social network better footing in competing with Google and Apple, who have their own mapping services. Like Amazon, the company is likely looking to establish its own mapping service rather than license a third-party solution.
Waze Mobile is the developer behind the highly-popular Waze social GPS application that features turn-by-turn navigation. It's available on Android, iPhone, Symbian, Windows Mobile and BlackBerry, and recently won the Best Overall Mobile App award at Mobile World Congress 2013. It's completely free and driven by its 47 million users.
Unlike other GPS apps, Waze uses satellite signals from members' smartphones to generate maps and traffic data, offering community-edited maps, traffic jams, road hazards, accidents and even speed traps – all supplied by other drivers in real time. The free service also helps users find the cheapest, closest gas stations near their current location whether it's at home or out-of-town.
"With community-generated maps and real-time traffic, you'll always get the best route to your destination," reads the app description. "By simply driving around with Waze open, you're already contributing tons of real-time traffic & road info to your local driving community. Waze makes it fun and simple to meet up and coordinate with friends on the road. Connect to Facebook to see friends also headed to your destination."
Waze Mobile was founded in 2008 by Uri Levine, software engineer Ehud Shabtai, and Amir Shinar. The company has raised $67 million in funding to date including $25 million in 2010 and $30 million in 2011. Financial backers include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Blue Run Ventures and semiconductor company Qualcomm Inc.
Reuters reports that talks between Facebook and Waze Mobile began six months ago. Due diligence between the two companies is underway after a term sheet was signed, Reuters said, quoting business daily Calcalist. Officials at Waze and Facebook declined to comment on the report.