Google’s Waze acquisition and some eye-watering numbers
Google/ITA just became travel acquisition chump change thanks to Waze.
That’s how many more dollars Google just paid than it did for ITA Software more than two years ago in its announcement in June to acquire Waze, a relatively tiny, self-proclaimed big data company and user-proclaimed social mapping and crowdsourced turn-by-turn navigation application.
The amount of time it took a small but baller-status talent team at Waze, based in Israel, to build an asset worth more than one billion to not only Google but also its bidding war buddies, Apple and Facebook, all equally desperate to dominate mapping.
The total number of Waze users to-date. No, there isn’t a zero missing.
24 hours a day:
The amount of time Waze has legal, carte blanche permission, given by its opt-in users, to passively capture data about every move they make each day.
While it markets the app’s ability to passively use data simply by you having your app open while driving to update traffic and route data in real time… , it fails to give equal real estate to the fact that if you don’t close out of the app entirely, it can passively capture every bit of your location data that exists within the 23 hours remaining in your day outside of a car.
The number of travel-first apps that have successfully inspired any 1M+ community of travelers to contribute live crowdsourced location-specific data in real time via a sustainable model. No, TripAdvisor doesn’t count.
For example, airport concessions data, real time air route health projections and re-accommodation alternatives, security wait times, projected traveler ETA at connecting gates and the list goes on… crowdsourcing could provide so much more than we know today, and Foursquare, if anything, continues to prove that point. Waze is proving it out with even greater real-time user engagement.
Billions of data points = Why this acquisition was likely irresistible. Knowing intimate details about where, and thus how, 50 million of the most engaged digital citizens spend every moment of their day feels like an incredibly powerful asset to buy… unless you’re Google and 50 million users is how many fall out of your pocket each day without you noticing.
So let’s take it a step further… knowing where their office is, where their home is, how many days each year their passively shared GPS locates them more than a plane ride away from either of those locations, what time their phone was first within range of a signal upon landing and thus what flight & airline they traveled on, where/what addresses they visited and as a result what hotel they stayed at along with which companies they called on while traveling. As I said… the list goes on.
By knowing where a loyal, tech-savvy and mobile-centric set of 50 million users is every hour of the day, you can fill in a lot of interesting travel-specific data gaps. And mobilizing them to begin capturing all types of other priceless data points that can be used to add more relevance to local real-time travel or travel-adjacent ads on the day-of travel & throughout the trip feels like the sweetest of spots to reside.
The size of our over-inflated travel industry egos that may prevent us from accepting the fact that the years of brilliance invested in an asset like ITA can be so easily out-valued by a clipart-cartoon-laced social mapping startup in just three years… but it’s just as much about who else might buy it instead, as what you’re buying.
The price differential may simply say more about how few competitors there are to fear in travel through the eyes of Google versus the world of mapping… which also begs the ever-present question of ‘Aren’t they now all just one in the same?’
Give us your take on the Waze buy: Overpriced? A steal? Or just right?
NB: Dollars image via Shutterstock
Sarah Kennedy Ellis is a contributing Node to Tnooz and director of Sabre Labs, a dedicated emerging technology incubator and trends research lab at Sabre Holdings.
At Sabre since 2007, Sarah has spent time working in a variety of divisions including everything from strategy and product development to social media marketing and R&D.
She was selected as one of the first members of PhoCusWright's inaugural "Class of 35" in 2009, recognizing the top 35 young leaders under the age of 35 in travel.
She also is invited to speak at a variety of technology conferences & industry events each year on topics including emerging technology and innovation management.
The views expressed by Sarah on Tnooz are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Sabre Holdings, its partners, customers or subsidiaries.