In June 2013, Google acquired Waze for $1.15 billionat the time the highest price ever paid for a consumer app and certainly a life-changing event for me, my co-founders, all Waze employees and the Israeli hi-tech ecosystem.
People often ask me if it was the right decision and what has changed in the last ten years. Here are some of my thoughts.
I believe there are right decisions or no decisions. If you ask me if Waze would have been worth over $1.15 billion today, the answer is yes. Today, the app has 10x more users and 100x more revenue than it did in 2013, if not more.
So the answer is definitely yes, it was the right decision. But in reality, we don’t know what would have happened if a different path had been taken. We don’t even know if Waze would have become what it is today, or if it would have even survived. I think so, but we can’t really know for sure.
Blockbuster said ‘no’ to the offer to acquire Netflix (twice). Yahoo twice turned down the offer to acquire Google, both times for less than $5 million. Today we look at these decisions and say, “Big mistake,” but we don’t know what would have happened if they said yes. While we’d like to believe that Netflix and Yahoo would still have followed the same path, this is unlikely.
Waze the day after
What happened to Waze in the last decade? Well, it’s still the most popular driving app in the world, with around 650 million downloads, and certainly the most loved and used app. When I ask people who use Waze how often they use it, the answer is “every time I get in the car,” while with other apps, the answer is “whenever I need it.”
Some people would say it’s better than ten years ago, others would say it’s not as good as it used to be. However, traffic jams, the problem we tried to solve when building Waze, are worse than before almost everywhere.
What has become of Waze’s management team? They stayed in the startup scene and over time most of them moved on to their next startup. For me, it went on to build a dozen new startups.
If I had a time machine, would I have done anything differently? Probably not.
Waze’s biggest miss, as far as I’m concerned: it didn’t work with carpooling, which could have had a much bigger impact on traffic jams than the Waze app itself.
Now let’s imagine a world without Waze.
In 2012, Waze grew faster than the entire navigation industry combined – all apps and in-car navigation devices with about 20 million users – while Waze had 25 million new users in 2012. The use of driving apps was not that popular back then.
Today, most drivers in the world use a car or navigation app, and Waze has probably driven more miles than the rest of the industry combined.
The end is just the beginning of a new journey
Ten years later, I am proud to be one of the founders of an app that is used by so many people and creates so much value (a lot of value for a lot of people).
Since then I was part of another startup somewhat similar, MoovitWaze for public transport, but in this case with even more users – about 750 billion – when it was also bought for more than a billion dollars.
I’m glad I left Waze after the acquisition so I could build more startups, make even more impact, create more value, and help make the world a better place for more people.
Among the startups I’ve built or become involved in are Pontera, which helps individuals retire richer by enabling them to work with their financial advisor on withheld accounts like 401(k); FairFly covers the travel industry’s biggest secret about what happens to airline tickets AFTER booking and helps companies save on their travel budget. In the agritech sector, SeeTree, which responds to the particularly devastating challenges in permanent cultivation, such as crop losses, epidemics, etc. advanced technologies
In healthcare, Kahun, an evidence-based AI clinical reasoning tool that addresses the challenges of generative AI models and leverages the advanced capabilities of Language Models (LLMs) to create a clinical assessment tool that has more than 30 million evidence-based medical data. insights. In the mobility sector, there’s Pumba, which helps local motorists in big cities park on the street close to home, and there are more problems I’m working on to solve.
I think choosing this path has enabled me to realize my personal destiny. Since then I have also become a teacher and mentor to entrepreneurs as well as a serial entrepreneur.
Over time, this decision also enabled me to take the next step and write my book, Fall in Love with the Problem, Not the Solution: A Handbook for Entrepreneursand making a bigger impact by helping others build their own successful businesses, learning from the successes and failures I’ve experienced in my career.