Google Maps and Waze teams merge amid cost cuts

Against the backdrop of cost-cutting and layoffs, Google is consolidating its teams working on its map services. Google announced on Thursday, December 8, 2022, to merge the teams working on Waze and those working on products like Google Maps. This announcement effective December 9 was first reported by the Wall Street Journal. It’s part of a broader strategy to streamline processes and consolidate overlapping investments established by Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai.

Waze should remain independent

Specifically, Waze and its 500 employees will integrate Google Geo, the division of Alphabet, which includes its portfolio of world map products such as Google Maps, Google Earth and Street View. Current Waze CEO Neha Parikh is leaving the company after a transition period. No other layoffs are planned at this time.

“By integrating the Waze team into Geo’s real-world mapping product portfolio, teams will benefit from increased technical collaboration”, a Google spokesman told Reuters. However, Waze will continue to be an independent app according to Google. It has about 151 million monthly active users worldwide, compared to more than a billion monthly active users for Google Maps services. The route planner for drivers is very popular in Europe. Its participatory nature allows users to report traffic problems, accidents, police presence, etc. appealed to the users.

Until now, Waze had maintained its independence after being acquired by Alphabet in 2013 for $1 billion. However, in February 2021, its former CEO, Noam Bardin, argued that Waze likely could have grown faster and more efficiently by remaining independent. He then explained that he regretted that many of the ideas put forward by his teams were taken up (especially by Maps) without the application being able to take advantage of certain advantages provided by Google. With this merger, will Waze benefit from increased support from its parent company? Will the route planner for motorists continue to develop independently?

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