Waze Mobile Ltd, operating under the trade name Waze, formerly known as FreeMap Israel, stands as a subsidiary under the umbrella of Google, offering satellite navigation software compatible with smartphones and other devices supporting the Global Positioning System (GPS). Beyond simple turn-by-turn navigation, the application integrates user-submitted travel times and route details while retrieving location-specific information through cellular networks. Waze characterizes its platform as a community-driven initiative, available for free download and use.
As for ownership, Waze falls under the ownership of Google LLC. The acquisition of Waze, a company specializing in GPS navigation software, occurred in June 2013, with Google investing around $1.1 billion in the venture. Originating in Israel in 2008, Waze transitioned into the hands of Google, where it now functions as a subsidiary. Despite this, Waze maintains its unique brand identity and operational functionalities.
Examining the historical trajectory of the company, Waze, established in 2006 by Uri Levine, Ehud Shabtai, and Amir Shinar in Israel under the moniker Freemap Israel, evolved into a comprehensive GPS navigation software app. The company underwent a rebranding in 2009, transforming into Waze, and experienced substantial growth due to its innovative community-driven approach to traffic and navigation data.
Users actively contributed traffic-related information, enhancing the app’s ability to furnish precise and timely navigation updates. The pivotal shift in ownership transpired in 2013 when Google acquired Waze for approximately $1.15 billion. This strategic move aimed to enhance Google’s mapping and navigation services by incorporating Waze’s real-time traffic data into its offerings.
Post-acquisition by Google, Waze has continued to operate as an autonomous entity while enjoying synergies with Google’s technological prowess and resources. In summary, Waze’s inception in 2006 in Israel marked the genesis of a globally popular navigation app. The company’s ownership landscape transformed in 2013 with its integration into Google, yet it sustains its individual brand identity and unique functionalities.
Turning the spotlight on the founders, Waze had its roots in the collaborative efforts of Ehud Shabtai, Amir Shinar, and Uri Levine, who initiated the venture in 2006 in Israel. Among the trio, Ehud Shabtai emerges as the most prominent figure, boasting a background as an Israeli software engineer and entrepreneur with a degree in Philosophy and Computer Science from Tel Aviv University.
The impetus for Waze sprouted when Shabtai received a GPS device as a gift, revealing its shortcomings in real-time traffic updates and community-driven data. Recognizing the potential for improvement in navigation systems, Shabtai envisioned the integration of user-generated data for more accurate and up-to-date information, culminating in the birth of Waze.
Collaborating with Amir Shinar and Uri Levine, Shabtai shaped Waze into a free, community-driven navigation app, enabling users to contribute real-time data on traffic, road conditions, and incidents. The app swiftly gained traction, ultimately leading to its acquisition by Google in 2013 for a reported $1.1 billion.