Google has announced its aquisition of the popular Israeli navigation app WAZE. At an estimated $1.1-1.3 Billion, the deal is one of the top acquisitions of an Israeli company ever. It was reported that WAZE's management made efforts to see to it that the Company's activities remain in Israel, at least for the coming years. Here's what Google VP Brian McClendon, had to say on the deal in Google's official blog: To help you outsmart traffic, today we’re excited to announce we’ve closed the acquisition of Waze. This fast-growing community of traffic-obsessed drivers is working together to find the best routes from home to work, every day. The Waze product development team will remain in Israel and operate separately for now. We’re excited about the prospect of enhancing Google Maps with some of the traffic update features provided by Waze and enhancing Waze with Google’s search capabilities. Peter Cohan reflected in Forbes on the four main reasons that Google made the aquisition: (1) WAZE's user engagement - its 50 million users worldwide are great advocates, thanks in part to its "sharing" culture, (2) to thwart the competition by keeping WAZE out of the hands of Facebook and Apple (3) to add the WAZE features Google lacks, like reporting traffice accidents and (4) to use WAZE as an alternative to Google Maps. The deal was also covered by the New York Times, which noted that the acquisition highlights the increasing importance of location data in our on-the-go lives, whether it is in finding a place to eat or navigating an unfamiliar road. For the full Forbes article click here. For the full New York Times article click here. For the TechCrunch article on the acquisition click here.
Five of the developers of Facebook's ten largest social games in the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) come from srael, and the company is now in Israel looking for more. Roy Goldenberg of Globes covered Facebook's growing interest in Israeli gaming companies: Facebook is building on the Israeli gaming market: five of the developers of Facebook's ten largest social games in the EMEA come from Israel. Herzliya-based Plarium is one of the ten fastest growing games companies on Facebook worldwide. These achievements today brought Facebook to Israel for the second time in six months to find the next game hit, and to send a clear message to Israeli gaming developers: We want you. "Israel is a very advanced country for gaming on Facebook, Facebook head of European platform partnerships Julien Codorniou, who is heading the company's gaming developers conference, Game On. "The last time we held this conference in Israel, 500 programmers came, making it our biggest event outside the US." Codorniou looks beyond gaming on Facebook, and points to Plarium as a company which symbolizes the industry's future. "Casual games are a big hit, but we'll see that the next thing will be hard core games, such as Plarium's 'Total Domination' and 'Stormfall'," he says, adding that a game like "Stormfall", which did not exist six months ago, is now one of the 20 fastest-growing games on Facebook worldwide. Until one or two years ago, Zynga , the developer of Farmville and other games, was a byword for games of Facebook, but Codorniou says that it is now just one of the companies in the field. "The situation has changed. Today, 70% of growing gaming companies on Facebook come from Europe," he says. Facebook is definitely a gaming powerhouse, with more than 250 million players a month, 11% more than in 2012, making it a larger gaming platform than all games consoles combined. 130 Facebook games have more than one million active players a month, with the average gamer playing more than three games a month. In view of the website's success, Facebook current target is mobile. Codorniou says that for a social game to succeed it must first go through Facebook's online platform, and then to its mobile platform, and only afterwards to Apple and Google app stores. But what might be perceived as competition against Apple and Google is actually cooperation. "We want to be one of the biggest traffic creators for the app stores," admits Codorniou in commenting on the possibility that mobile games developers should promote their wares on the Facebook app by a direct download key. "23% of the time people in world spend on mobile is on Facebook. There is no doubt that gaming companies want to be part of this share," he says, adding that 80% of the top ten Android and iOS apps interface with Facebook accounts. For the full Globes article click here.