Google is set to buy Waze, the wildly popular Israeli maps mobile application, Israel’s Globes business paper reported over the weekend. The $1.3 billion deal would be the largest ever for a smartphone app.
The latest reports indicate that a deal is imminent.
The deal is expected to be announced this week …”Negotiations are nearly final. There are a couple of details being worked out,” the second source said. The source described the remaining details as “logistics” rather than significant sticking points.
Facebook had previously courted the start-up, but the deal fell through when Waze refused to relocate its engineering team from Israel to the social media giant’s California headquarters. Initially, rumor had it  Apple was also interested in the company, and Seattle’s Microsoft Corporation has had a stake in the company  for awhile.
Waze uses satellite signals from members’ phones to generate maps and traffic data – jams, accidents and police positions  – that it shares with other users in real-time.
The jockeying for the company was widely covered in the context of Israel’s status as a so-called Start-Up Nation.  A month ago billionaire investor Warren Buffett declared that  Israel is the “most promising investment hub” outside of the United States. A recent innovation summit  highlighted Israeli knowledge and technology that could be brought to bear to solve some of Asia’s most pressing problems.
Most of Waze’s 100 employees work in the city of Ra’anana near Tel Aviv. The company reports having 47 million registered users worldwide.
[Photo: Waze ]