Vindu Goel, Facebook Is Said to Be in Talks to Buy Waze
Waze, which has more than 40 million users globally, is unusual in that it relies primarily on GPS data and real-time information from its users, who contribute updates on traffic, routes and even where to buy cheap gasoline.
Users of the service also typically share their locations continually as they drive — a potential gold mine of data that would be useful for Facebook as it seeks to serve up targeted ads.
“These people are giving permission for the cloud to track where they are,” said Brian Blau, a research director at Gartner, a technology research firm. “This is a particularly difficult problem for social networks in general. Very few people want to be tracked.”
Facebook currently uses maps from Microsoft’s Bing, but it also has a relationship with Waze. Facebook users can log into Waze using their Facebook accounts and share their location data with their Facebook friends.
Other technology companies, particularly Apple and Google, have also been watching Waze closely and may be interested in a potential acquisition of the start-up to improve their own mobile mapping services.
The story is that the company has been shopped, and they are hoping for a $1B acquisition.
Ignore Blau’s comments: people are willing to be tracked if that data is anonymized, and deleted after the time of it’s utility. The problem arises if the US or other governments start passing laws that allow agencies to force the social tools vendors to provide that data for use in investigations, like the FBI is trying to do with wiretapping on services like Skype.