Waze president aims for 30% of worldwide driving market

Co-founder’s makes first comments since traffic app firm sold to Google for $1.3 billion

Waze co-founder Uri Levine at a Jerusalem conference in May 2013 (photo credit: Flash90)
Waze co-founder Uri Levine at a Jerusalem conference in May 2013 (photo credit: Flash90)

Speaking publicly for the first time since inking a deal with Google to sell the traffic application Waze for $1.3 billion last week, one of the firm’s founders said there was still much work to do.

“We only have 51 million users. There are a billion cars in the world so we have a long way to go,” Waze co-founder and president Uri Levine told the Globes financial daily on Wednesday.

Levine, who also spoke at an event at the Technion – Institute of Technology in Haifa Wednesday, said he thought Google could help Waze capture a full 30 percent of the worldwide driving market.

Last week, Waze became one of the biggest exits in Israeli history, bringing worlwide attention to the Ra’anan-based firm, and making many of the company’s founders multimillionaires.

The app provides users with crowd-sourced and updated traffic information and navigation tools.

Levine said he believed Waze would remain in Israel and not be transferred to the US, where Google is based. The issue was reportedly a sticking point in an earlier deal with Facebook that was scrapped.

“The employees and the company will remain from my viewpoint in Israel forever. This is the natural place for us,” he said.

Speaking of the group’s salad days in Haifa, Levine said in the struggle to get investors on board, they would collect intelligence on where their potential targets lived.

“Before the meeting we would put their houses into the map,” Levine said. “And indeed, right at the start of the conversation one of the investors asked ‘you mean to tell me I can find my house on your map?’ ‘of course,’ I told him, ‘where do you live?’ His house would show up right away on the map. His eyes would get wide and I saw in his pupils dollar signs.”

Levine, who will reportedly receive $38 million in the deal, said he would use the money to invest in other start-ups.

“I’ve a mission to help young entrepreneurs and I think entrepreneurs have dreams and they need to try and realize them,” he told Globes.

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