Waze Craze Brings $30 Million For Growth, China Expansion
Waze is a somewhat unlikely success story. The social navigation and traffic app has just passed 7 million users globally and also announced another $30 million in funding, bringing its total to nearly $60 million. It also said that one of its new investors is Hong Kong magnate Li Ka Shing, who will help the company as it navigates (pardon the pun) the challenging and difficult Chinese market.
The other investor in this round is Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Mary Meeker joins the Waze board as a result.
Waze has successfully created a community of engaged drivers with its crowdsourced traffic data and turn-by-turn navigation. But the app is evolving into a local discovery tool as well:
Traditional GPS systems are built on a static, old world maps and points of interest, which never reflects real-time information about new businesses, pop-up shops, or live local events. The new social eco-system provides an osmosis of consumer-generated data from people driving, checking in, and reviewing locations in real-time. This layer of social location information is now available to drivers in a navigation setting. With community-curated data from Waze, Foursquare, & Yelp, drivers can now search for real-time events like the ongoing OccupyWallStreet protests as easily as they would find their local Walmart.
In addition to providing social-traffic data and local discovery Waze is collecting a great deal of “hotspot” and traffic pattern data that might be served up to retailers and others in the form of real-world analytics at some point.
Waze currently has meaningful usage in Israel, selected markets in Europe and Latin America, as well as the US. The Waze app’s “personality” and social experience differentiate it from the mass of GPS-navigation apps in the market.