Waze president: Google is our only rival

Uri Levine: Google is our main threat, because if it does what we are doing faster, then it will win in the end.

"What threatens us?" asked Waze Ltd. co-founder president Uri Levine at the annual BDO Ziv Haft and Luzzatto & Luzzatto High Tech Conference today. He answered his own question, "Waze has only one competitor - Google. Google is our main threat, because if it does what we are doing faster, it will win in the end."

Levine did not mention Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) or its reported offer to acquire Waze. In response to a question about Waze's future and why he was not selling the company, he said, "There are few opportunities to change the world, and I want to change the world."

Crowdsourcing navigation app Waze made waves on the report that Apple was seeking to acquire it. Waze declined to comment on the reports, and Apple denied them. With or without Apple, Waze, which now has 36 million users, needs to find a way to generate money from its users, which is reportedly not yet happening, at least in substantial amounts.

Levin said, "We are asked what our business model is and whether our entire business is for free. No. There is advertising and they work pretty well." He added, "Ultimately, you need big numbers to make money from advertising, and we have the big numbers in terms of users and use. The idea is that every business can put itself on the map and register with Waze, which gives small businesses a big advantage. There are big advertisers in the US, such as gas stations, hotels, and pizza parlors which use us. In Israel, 5,000 different businesses appear on the map."

As for Waze potential, Levine said, "15 years ago, there was no Wikipedia, and today there is no Britannica. This is the power of content created by crowdsourcing. There are only four companies in the world that can create maps, and it's an expensive business: Nokia and TomTom, which have acquired companies for billions of dollars; Google; and Waze. Of these four companies, Google and Waze do not care how much it costs to keep the maps up-to-date: Google because it has a lot of money, and Waze because it relies on the community."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 28, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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