Google’s Waze acquisition sparks FTC antitrust review

June 24, 2013

Google and Waze may be a match made in heaven, but as two of the leading companies in the mapping industry, Google’s $1.1 billion acquisition of the social driving company unsurprisingly signaled some alarm bells with antitrust authorities.

Google confirmed Saturday that the Federal Trade Commission is reviewing the Waze deal, the Wall Street Journal reports. At this point, investigators are likely exploring how the deal would affect the mapping market, but there’s little chance that it would be called off, antitrust lawyers tell the WSJ.

Waze’s apps offer typical GPS navigation, but they also let drivers send and receive details about road conditions in real-time. Ultimately, that means Waze is more useful when it comes to figuring out how to avoid traffic jams or speed traps compared to standard GPS apps.

We’ve heard that Facebook was flirting with other suitors before it settled on Google’s deal. Facebook reportedly made a $1 billion offer for Waze, but for whatever reason those talks fell apart. Microsoft, an investor in Waze, may have been interested in the company as well.

Google previously said it keep Waze’s app independent, but it would also use the company’s traffic data within Google Maps. And of course, Waze would also get some of Google Maps’ technology as well.

The announcement follows a letter from activist group Consumer Watchdog urging the FTC to kill the Google/Waze deal.

“With the proposed Waze acquisition, the Internet giant would remove the most viable competitor to Google Maps in the mobile space,” wrote Consumer Watchdog privacy project director John Simpson in the letter. “Approval of the Waze deal can only allow Google to remove any meaningful competition from the market. … If the acquisition comes before the you, I urge you to reject it in the strongest possible terms.”

Copyright 2013, VentureBeat

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