Apple can deny that she was ever interested in Waze, but the fact that Google is the one who managed to scoop the Israel based traffic app up seems to have left an impression on the hardware giant as Apple continues to purchase smaller scale mapping startups in an attempt to improve its mapping system.
Last weekend there were a number of reports published that Apple acquired two small start-up companies engaged in the mapping. First was Canadian based Locationary. Similar to Waze in that it gathers information from the community based on Crowdsourcing users, but different in that it doesn’t track navigation but rather information on businesses and services that users frequent; in other words, what happens when the Yellow Pages meets Wikipedia.
HopStop – Israeli investment
According to Bloomberg , the other company is HopStop , a U.S. based company with offices in New York, but a significant portion of its capital was actually raised from Israeli investors including serial entrepreneur Yaron Galai and Daniel Recanati’ investment fund, Rhodium.
HopStop was founded by an African entrepreneur named Chinedu Echeruo, almost 8 years ago, before there was such a thing as iPhones and apps. In 2008, when Apple launched the AppStore platform, Echeruo was one of the first to see the potential and developed a solution that allowed users to find public transportation routes from point to point. Earlier this year the company added a new feature allowing for real-time tracking of arrival times for public transit (similar to Israeli startup, Moovit).
The Israeli Connection
Though Apple acquires a substantial number of small companies each year (most of them we don’t hear about), an interesting element of this purchase is the involvement of Israeli investors.
After selling Quigo to AOL, Yaron Galai started investing in startups as an angel investor (ending this activity by 2010 according to his LinkedIn page) and in 2008 it was actually HopStop that attracted his attention. Other investors took notice as well, including friend and fellow Israeli investor Daniel Recanati, and together they have invested the amount of $2M in the company.
A year later, Echeruo left his position as CEO and Galai brought in current CEO Joe Meyer, who worked with Galai at Quigo when it was sold to AOL, subsequently managing its operations there.
They are expected to profit from this deal (albeit in relatively small amounts) and earn up to 2-3 times their initial investment.
Yes Waze, No Waze. What’s up with Apple’s maps?
In January of this year Tim Cook denied that Apple was involved in negotiations to acquire Waze and explained that although Apple released a problematic product in maps, it was more than capable of fixing things in house and does not need any external acquisitions to address the problem. Judging from what was published last week, it doesn’t look that way.
Apparently, after Apple had given up on Waze (probably due to the price tag), Apple continues to acquire small startups in mapping. The latest cases of Locationary and HopStop are small companies that will have a negligible impact on Apples budget. According to information obtained by Geektime, the two technologies are expected to be incorporated into Apple’s upcoming updates to their mapping service later this year.
Will an updated mapping service including business registration, navigation and public transportation allow Apple to compete with rival Google maps? Probably not yet, but it’s definitely a few steps in the right direction.
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