Report: Google mulls Waze acquisition, setting up bidding war with Facebook

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Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is in talks to acquire crowdsourced location services firm Waze for more than $1 billion, setting the stage for a possible bidding war with Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), Bloomberg reports.

Citing sources familiar with the matter, the report states Google is one of several tech giants to approach Waze since reports of Facebook's interest in the startup first surfaced earlier this month. Waze is seeking an offer of more than $1 billion but may also raise a new round of venture financing and remain independent, insiders said. Waze raised $30 million in late 2011 in a round led by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Horizons Ventures Hong Kong.

The Waze application assembles turn-by-turn GPS navigation, real-time traffic updates and social networking components to improve drivers' daily commute, with all map and traffic information originating via on-the-go users who keep the solution open on their mobile device. Motorists can also contribute reports on accidents, police traps and related hazards. More than 47 million drivers now use Waze across operating systems including Google's Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS.

Bloomberg notes Google could leverage the Waze platform to add a social component to its Google Maps platform, adding a takeover would also eliminate any competitive threat posed by Waze landing with another company. Google and Waze declined to comment.

Multiple reports in Israeli business journals CalcalistYnet and The Market previously stated Facebook would acquire Waze for between $800 million and $1 billion, with sources maintaining a term sheet had been signed and due diligence was underway. TechCrunch corroborated the reports, citing a source who said both Facebook and Waze have privately confirmed the deal is happening and that reports of the purchase price range are accurate. The status of Facebook's Waze bid is unclear: Facebook has said it does not comment on speculation.

Waze is also one of several companies providing mapping and navigation data to Apple Maps, released last year in association with the revamped iOS 6. Earlier this year, TechCrunch reported that Apple was in advanced negotiations to acquire Waze, but the publication later posted a follow-up article stating the deal was not happening, an assertion backed by other media outlets. A source familiar with Apple's thinking told CNet the rumors were "fabricated." Both Apple and Waze declined to comment at that time. Sources told Bloomberg that Apple is not part of the current Waze acquisition discussions.

For more:
- read this Bloomberg article

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