Facebook is in the process of buying Israeli satellite location service provider Waze for $1bn, according to local reports.
Israeli news service Calcalist reported that a number of unnamed sources had confirmed that the search giant was in talks with Waze on Thursday. Facebook reportedly began brokering the deal with the satellite specialist six months ago and a terms sheet for the agreement has already been signed. At the time of publishing Waze had not responded to V3's request for comment on the report and Facebook would not comment on the story.
Waze offers map and traffic data services using satellite signals sent from smartphones. The company is already partnered with Facebook, to let users share details about their drive on the social network. If bought, Waze will be the third Israeli company purchased by Facebook, with the firm having bought Snaptu in 2011 for $70m and Face.com in 2012 for $60m.
The news comes during a wider push by Facebook to expand its mobile offering. The social network unveiled its Facebook Home Android skin on 4 April, which is designed to push Facebook services to the forefront of the Android operating system.
IDC analyst Alys Woodward told V3 that the purchase would help Facebook continue this push by letting it offer more tailored advertising to its users. "Integrating Waze's real-time crowdsourced traffic and driving information with Facebook's ‘social graph' of who knows who and who likes what, has huge potential for location-based advertising," said Woodward.
"Facebook gives Waze the segmentation information for targeting. What Waze brings to Facebook is the mechanism and more importantly the incentive for people to share their location information. Facebook has tried to get users to share their location via Facebook Check In and location tagging, but only a small proportion of Facebook users share their location regularly."
Alongside reports of the acquisition, Facebook engineering director Josh Wiseman has left the company to join venture capital firm Social+Capital as entrepreneur-in-residence. The news will be a blow to Facebook as during his six-year stint Wiseman oversaw some of the firm's biggest releases, having worked on its timeline, photos, video and chat services.
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