Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on T Jon Russell was Asia Editor for The Next Web from 2011 to 2014. Originally from the UK, he lives in Bangkok, Thailand. You can find him on Twitter, Angel List, LinkedIn.
Google completed its acquisition of Waze last June, but only now has the price tag that it paid for the Israel-headquartered social mapping startup and a hint at why the company sold out been revealed.
A blog post on LinkedIn from Noam Bardin, who is CEO and co-founder of Waze, confirms that Google agreed to a $1.15 billion deal to buy the company. That’s notable since it is the first time that a member of either company has confirmed a figure — media estimates had varied from $1.1 billion to $1.3 billion — although it isn’t clear how that broke down over stock and cash.
In addition, Bardin also provides some interesting context on the deal. He hints that pressure from investors — who seem to have held significant stakes in the company — was a key factor in Waze deciding to sell:
One of Waze’s mistakes was the valuation of its A round which significantly diluted the founders. Perhaps, had we held control of the company, as the Founders of Facebook, Google, Oracle or Microsoft had, Waze might still be an independent company today.
Waze raised its $12 million Series A funding round in March 2008. It went on to raise a further $30 million in 2011, which took it to $67 million in private funding in total.
Bardin also reflects on another Waze error — which again, he hints, stemmed from the influence of company investors — when he explains how the startup shied away from competing directly with Google when it was still young:
When Google came out with free Turn-by-Turn navigation, stealing our thunder, the response of our Israeli investors was that we should focus on Singapore or Romania instead of the US… to avoid the inevitable confrontation. We had a moment of fear and took our eyes off the ball, costing us valuable time.
John [Malloy of Blue Run Ventures], having lived through Paypal competing with eBay, gave us invaluable experience, something only a Unicorn grower would know, and helped steer us back on-track, getting us back to focusing on the US market and later success.
Despite these excerpts, the post goes behind retelling Waze’s story and assesses the potential of startups in Israel to rival, and indeed overtake, those in the US. But certainly the points made about Badin’s direct experience are interesting and likely to stir up discussion in Israel, particularly given that it paints investors from the country in a somewhat poor light.
Bardin transitioned over to Google following the Waze acquisition, unlike his fellow co-founder Uri Levine, who is now running FeeX, a company focused on exposing hidden fees within financial services.
➤ A Unicorn? In Israel? [LinkedIn]
Headline image via LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP/Getty Images
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