CEO of Waze to depart Google after confirmation Waze and Google Maps teams will merge, as standalone Waze app to remain
Alphabet to make some consolidation around its mapping and navigation units, amid pressure at the search engine giant to cut costs and consolidate operations.
Reuters reported Google as saying on Thursday that it will merge its teams working on mapping service Waze and products like Google Maps, effective Friday 9 December, in a bid to consolidate processes.
Google indicated that it didn’t expect any layoffs as part of the reorganisation, but Waze CEO Neha Parikh will exit the company following a transition period.
The change will reportedly see Waze’s team of 500 employees move on Friday to Google’s Geo organisation, which oversees Google Maps, Earth and Street View.
According to Reuters, Google said that Waze will continue to be a standalone app, which boasts roughly 151 million monthly active users worldwide.
Waze is a mobile navigation app that allows drivers to build and use live maps, real-time traffic updates and turn-by-turn navigation.
Waze works by allowing users to crowd-source their commutes and other drives using the app to report traffic jams, accidents and other traffic details along the way.
Waze is free for users, which has contributed to its popularity.
“By bringing the Waze team into Geo’s portfolio of real-world mapping products, the teams will benefit from further increased technical collaboration,” the spokesperson told Reuters.
The move is not entirely unexpected after Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai in July said the company would implement a hiring slowdown, streamline processes and consolidate investments where they overlap.
Google acquired Waze (formerly known as FreeMap Israel) back in 2013 for $1 billion, after it had also been courted by Apple and Facebook.
At the time of the acquisition, analysts speculated that Google had bought Waze in large part to keep its technology out of the hands Facebook and Apple.
Google stepped in to acquire the outfit after previous talks between Waze and Facebook had failed to result in a deal.
And in late 2012, it was rumoured that Apple was about to purchase Waze.
Indeed, the rumour mill a decade ago noted that Apple would acquire Waze in order to bolster its own poorly received mapping services, which had suffered after Apple tried to build a Google Maps replacement for its iOS 6 operating system in September 2012.
But questions remain about whether Waze remains a good fit within Alphabet, considering it also offers its own Google Maps sat nav system.
In February 2021, Waze’s former top executive Noam Bardin said Waze had struggled to grow within Google and that it could have “probably grown faster and much more efficiently had we stayed independent,” Reuters reported.