Web giants Google and Facebook battle it out to snap up new services offered by startups.
Google and Facebook in a bidding war over Waze
In the latest of a series of strategic acquisitions by web giants, Google recently spent $1.5 billion buying Waze, the community-based traffic and navigation app created by an Israeli company in 2008. Facebook was also in the running to buy it but lost out.
The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has recently been investigating Google’s takeover, but this bidding war shows how the major web and social network players are fighting to dominate the new market for community-based products and services.
Unlike most current mapping solutions, Waze uses users’ data (over 50 million users in 190 countries) to enhance its mapping and navigation service with ‘’crowdsourced’’ information (a more sophisticated version than the pioneering Coyote) about accidents, traffic jams, speed cameras, police checks, petrol prices, etc.
Facebook and Instagram
Facebook’s acquisition of photo and video sharing network Instagram (or “Insta’’ as users call it), is another example of web giants’ constant quest for hip new services to offer users.
In the spring of 2012, Facebook spent $1 billion on the service (13 employees and 30 million users at the time), a move that created quite a stir in the industry.
Tumblr, Vine, WiFiSlam: most wanted
Other such examples are micro-blogging site Tumblr, which was launched in 2007 and recently bought out by Yahoo for $1.1 billion, short-video sharing site Vine, created in 2012 and absorbed by Twitter to challenge Instagram, and indoor GPS service WifiSlam, which Apple bought for $20 million.
Such deals also reflect a more general, fast-growing trend, whereby large organisations take over or make strategic partnerships with startups in order to integrate innovation, rather than developing it in-house.