Five of My Biggest Fears Now That Google Has Had Its Way with Waze

Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ve surely heard about the latest gigantic tech acquisition, which joins the billion dollar club along with names like Instagram, Tumblr and a very few select others. Google has picked up Waze, the social mapping app for various platforms.

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:

5 Remember Who Built Those Maps!

Waze executed, so more users would enjoy the experience, since after all, Waze, as well as any social app, depends on users to enhance its core offering. Now, when a billion plus dollars is thrown your way, it is not too difficult to neglect those users and stop updating and maintaining the app that brought you here. From what I know about Waze, they won’t do this, but the Waze I knew yesterday, is not the Waze of today. I hope Google encourages frequent updates and advances in Waze and its entire mapping solution. The users depend on it!

4 Let’s Put Google’s Openness to the Test, Shall We?

You know what Waze did right among many other things? They did not just focus on one platform. The app is available across several mobile platforms, although, Windows Phone is sadly missing. It would be very unfortunate if that reality changed now that Waze is Google property. I know if it had been Apple who bought Waze, this fear would be an instant reality but since Google already has many iOS apps in the App Store, I hope Waze will remain one of them.

3 National Pride, Yes, I Went There!

As the myth goes (no one has really confirmed this), Waze said no to Facebook because they wanted to keep their R&D in Israel, where the company was born. Facebook said no, Google said yes. Now, that is great, both from a Waze perspective that they were able to stand their ground and come out a winner, but more so, a national win for Israel’s startup economy. I sure hope Google understands this and lets Waze remain in Israel forever. Again, no reason to believe they won’t.

2 So, About Prism…

With everything that has happened over the past week with the NSA, I can’t help but think what Google can do with all that real-time crowdsourced location data. Now, Google has so much information on us that they have not yet proven to have any intention of abusing, so this is not really such a fear, more of a concern about potential privacy issues.

1 How Does Google Make Most of Its Money Again? Oh Yea, That!

What is Google? Ever think about that question? I mean yes, they became well known for their search engine. But they pretty much own the mobile space, so are they a mobile company? They make cars, too! And glasses. So I think it is important we recognize where almost all of Google’s revenue comes from, and the answer is advertising. So there’s that. I sure hope Google doesn’t undermine what Waze has done and shift the focus to advertising dollars, because that would really stink.
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