Microsoft isn’t the only company mulling a $1 billion purchase. TechCrunch says that Facebook is considering an acquisition of its own in the form of Waze, the social and mobile mapping company. According to reports from several Israeli publications, the social networking behemoth is courting Waze in a deal that could fall between $800 million (around £514 million) and $1 billion (around £643 million).
TechCrunch has heard from sources familiar with the matter that the deal is indeed real, with Facebook having approached Waze around six months ago to kick off negotiations. The pricing is also said to be accurate, although the valuation seems strange considering the company dropped $1 billion on Instagram just last year.
The only issue remaining for Facebook, according to TechCrunch’s sources, is whether to keep Waze in Israel or bring it across to the United States. The social networking company has previously acquired two companies in Israel, ultimately relocating both companies.
Buying Waze would make sense in a lot of ways. First, the mapping company deals with a mountain of crowdsourced information on a daily basis, information that may prove valuable to Facebook. Waze is also known to provide mapping data for Apple’s much maligned Maps application, so Facebook could potentially generate a small revenue stream by licensing the data and technology to Apple in the long run.
It’s also part of a larger shift towards mobile for Facebook, which has seen a decline in desktop usage in big markets like the United States despite passing the one billion user threshold not too long ago. The potential Waze buyout, the Instagram purchase last year, and the introduction of Facebook Home all point to a new laser focus on mobile. That’s understandable: the company no doubt wants to retain its massive user base and stop them escaping to services such as Twitter, so it needs to do everything it can to offer a stellar mobile experience.