John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

FTC Reviewing Google’s Waze Acquisition

google-ufoHardly surprising: Google’s $1.1 billion acquisition of the mapping company Waze has drawn regulatory scrutiny.

Google on Saturday confirmed that it has been contacted by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission regarding the acquisition. The company and the FTC both declined to comment on the nature of the inquiry, but it’s pretty obvious what’s going on here. Google Maps is a leading mapping and navigation service. Waze was a rising rival. In fact, back in April, Waze CEO Noam Bardin was talking up his company as the search behemoth’s only viable competitor in that space.

“The traditional players don’t have a model that’s scalable, and they have financial challenges, so Google is out there creating a new standard in terms of quality,” Bardin said. “We feel that we are the only reasonable competition to them in this market of creating maps that are really geared for mobile, for real-time, for consumers, and for the new world we’re moving into.”

If that’s truly the case, the Google’s acquisition of Waze could be problematic. Not only does it remove a potential competitor from the mapping space, it consolidates a ton of mapping data in Google’s hands, further extending the company’s dominance.

Could that be harmful to competition and consumers? That’s what the FTC hopes to determine.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald