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Google’s cost-cutters come for Waze, will lose status as independent company

Google says it “remains deeply committed” to the Waze app.

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Enlarge / The Waze user icons. We feel for ya, little blue Waze icon above the “W. (credit: Waze)

Is Waze in trouble at Google? The Wall Street Journal broke the news last night that Google is merging the 500-person Waze team into Google’s “Geo” division, aka Google Maps. Waze’s current CEO, Neha Parikh—who has only been at the helm since 2021 after the long-term CEO, Noam Bardin, quit Google—will step down after a transition period. Under Maps, Waze won’t have a CEO.

The Waze merger comes as part of Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s cost-cutting mission over the last few months, which has so far killed Google Stadia, Project Loon, half of Area 120, and the Pixel laptop division and might even be coming for the (poorly monetized) Google Assistant. The report says that “Google expects the restructuring to reduce overlapping mapmaking work across the Waze and Maps products.”

Waze is a mapping application that has miles of overlap with Google Maps. You can view a world map, navigate places, look up points of interest, and see traffic data. Waze’s defining feature is crowdsourced reporting of road hazards—things like traffic, speed traps, construction—that will instantly show up for other Waze users. Google bought Waze in 2013, and while it quickly moved to integrate traffic reports, it doesn’t show all the Waze reports and doesn’t push users to report road hazards the way Waze does.

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