As part of recent cost-cutting measures, Google is planning to merge its Waze and Maps divisions, The Wall Street Journal has reported. The move is aimed at reducing duplicated work across the products, but Google said it will still keep the Waze and Maps apps separate.
"Google remains deeply committed to Waze’s unique brand, its beloved app and its thriving community of volunteers and users," a spokesperson told the WSJ. Waze CEO Neha Parikh will leave her role after a transition period, but there will reportedly be no layoffs. Starting this Friday, the 500-strong Waze team will join Google's Geo organization in charge of Maps, Earth and Street View.
Waze and Maps have been sharing features ever since Google acquired Waze for $1.1 billion back in 2013. Waze's traffic data started appearing in Maps shortly after the acquisition, with speed limits, radar locations and other features arriving later. In return, Waze has benefited from Google's know-how in search. The FTC launched an antitrust investigation shortly after the acquisition, and at the time, Google said it was keeping Waze as a separate unit "for now."
It's been nine years since then, but according to former CEO Noam Bardin, Waze hasn't enjoyed complete independence. "All of our growth at Waze post acquisition was from work we did, not support from the mothership. Looking back, we could have probably grown faster and much more efficiently had we stayed independent," he said in a LinkedIn post last year.
Waze has 151 million monthly active users, compared to one billion for Google Maps services. Still, Waze is a highly popular navigation app (particularly in Europe), thanks to its crowd-sourced nature. Individual users can easily report traffic, police, crashes, map problems, radar cameras and more with the touch of a button. Google Maps added the ability to report driving incidents back in 2019, but is less geared around crowdsourcing.
With ad revenue slowing down at Google, CEO Sundar Pichai said in September that he hoped to make the company 20 percent more efficient. Part of that, he said, could be achieved via layoffs and merging multiple products.
* This article was originally published here