My first reaction to this acquisition was pretty much identical to my reaction when Instagram and Tumblr were acquired. All three, and many others, are good examples of teams that focused exclusively on execution until they felt the product was so good it was time to think about monetization. In fact, Instagram never even reached that point; they focused on the product till the very end.
Waze is no different. The product, which I would be 100% comfortable calling a platform, is superb. The interface has consistently gotten better with every update and the overall user experience is unparalleled with the possible exception of Google Maps. I am a HUGE fan of Waze.
Now, they did add location-based ads when the driver is standing still, but again, that came at a later stage and I am ok with that. Startups need to learn from these success stories that they might not be the next Waze, but they can at least learn from the model of executing first, monetizing second.
Well, now that Google beat out Apple and Facebook, the question remains, as it always does, what is next for Waze? Based on reports from both companies, Waze will remain independent, at least for the near future, and that is great. Hopefully, Google will integrate Waze data into Google Maps and leave Waze itself as a standalone app.
However, there is always that fear when big companies buy out smaller ones. Here are five of my biggest concerns, which I might add, were magnified significantly when we all thought it was Facebook who would be buying Waze: