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July 22, 2009

Waze Providing the Way to Go

Filed under: Start-up Companies Reviews — admin @ 9:01 am

In the 21st century, we live in an age of mobility and technology. Furthermore, the two seem to go increasingly go hand in hand. With a huge range of mobile devices available from cell phones and smart phones to small GPS devices. Cars have GPS built in and some of the higher end phones, such as the iPhone 3G and the Blackberry also have GPS and other directional mapping apps available. Now yet a new company is joining the new directional mapping market. Introducing Waze, the company that advertises the “way to go.”

Founded in 2006, Waze has been leading the way in creating a new directional mapping program for the variety of smart phones available today. Waze, however, is not your regular directional mapping program that will just show you where to go or the best way to get there. Waze is that and more. The extra goodies that Waze will provide its users with include traffic, areas where construction could be a problem, and accidents and incidents. Furthermore, for the speeder and the type that consider the highway patrol as “costly pigs;” Waze also has something for you, which is even better than your conventional radar detector. What Waze has for you lead foots is a map that shows where all the speed traps and speed cams are — not giving the traffic cop a clue that you know where they are. Much better than a detectable radar detector, which cannot detect speed cams anyway. Also available with Waze’s services and apps is the showing of areas where parking is available.

The service that Waze is creating is still in its infancy and in the Alpha phase. You can sign up to be an alpha tester for Waze, since the Waze service is a service where drivers provide information to other drivers onto their mobile phones. To be an alpha tester for Waze’s service, you must have a smart phone that is compatible with Waze. The phones that will work with Waze are shown in a list where you fill in the proper fields for registration. These phones are the HTC Touch Pro2, Android G1, Android G2/Magic, iPhone, LG Incite, HTC Touch Diamond, HTC Touch Diamond 2, HTC Touch Fuze (Pro), Samsung Omnia HD i8910, Samsung Jack, Samsung Propel Pro, HTC Tilt, Motorola Moto Q9, Samsung Epix i907, HTC Snap, and Nokia E71x. Along with having one of the above mentioned phones, you will need to type in your first and last name, your email, and your city of residence.

Waze is a company that is based in Israel and its founder is Ehud Shabtai, who is a software engineer who graduated from Tel Aviv University with degrees in Philosophy and Computer Sciences. Furthermore, while at Tel Aviv University, Mr. Shabtai also received a PDA for a GPS navigation device and the navigation software, but unfortunately the product that Mr. Shabtai developed did not show the real conditions on the road that can be a nuisance to any driver. This is where the idea for Waze was born.

What makes Waze different from your average GPS device is that it is a dynamic navigation platform that has an eclectic system of working. The Waze platform works by incorporating GPS technology together with open source software and a community of drivers. The drivers are the key to the Waze network. The drivers are the ones who bring in the real-life road condition information in the Waze platform. When a driver drives through an area or on a particular stretch of the Interstate and can see where the construction areas and what detours are the best to take. The drivers will also be able to tell each other about speed traps and speed cams, so you lead foots know when to slow down before getting that expensive ticket.

Waze’s investors include Blue Run Ventures, Magma Venture Partners, and Vertex Venture Capital. The rounds of funding that these vc firms participated in and the amount of money that was invested in Waze is not disclosed to the public.

Blue Run Ventures is a vc firm that is solely dedicated to early stage companies in the tech industry and provide them with the foundation they need to become successful companies that will redesign the tech industry. Some other companies in Blue Run’s portfolio include Fwix, Good Media, Like.com, Inker, Topsy, and others.

Magma Venture Capital is one of Israel’s leading vc firms and it mainly focuses its investments in early stage companies in the communications, semiconductors, internet, and media industries. Some other companies in Magma’s portfolio include Zon Networks, Phonetic Systems, OutSmart, Extricom, and others.

Vertex Venture Capital is another one of Israel’s top vc firms and mainly invests in Israeli or Israel-related companies in the information networking, communications, and enterprise software industries. Some other companies in Vertex’s portfolio include Expand Network, Scopus, Flash Networks, Voltaire, Zeugma, and others.

Waze does have a few competitors and one of the noteworthy competitors is Mobile Crossing. Mobile Crossing is a company that was founded in 2004 with a vision to be a better navigation service for frequent drivers. The service that Mobile Crossing offers is similar to that of Waze. Mobile Crossing is based in Sunnyville, California and is a privately owned corporation.

For more information about Waze, click here.

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