Social mapping and navigation company Waze has raised $30 million in new funding from Horizons Ventures Hong Kong (the fund that manages the private venture investments of Facebook investor Li Ka-shing), and the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers Digital Growth Fund and iFund. This brings Waze’s total funding to over $55 million. John Malloy, Managing Partner of Blue Run Ventures and Jason Wong of Horizon Ventures will be joining the company’s board. In addition, Kleiner Perkins partner Mary Meeker has also joined the team as a strategic advisor and board observer alongside Josh Silverman, President of American Express US Consumer division and former CEO of Skype.
Founded in 2009, Waze offers free apps for the iPhone, Android, Windows Phone 7, BlackBerry and other mobile platforms, that include turn-by-turn navigation for drivers, and at the same time, uses that user data to build out its own maps. If there are issues on the road, such as major traffic jams, all of that information comes in through the apps and can be sent to other drivers.
The apps rely on crowdsourced data, from driver-created maps, to citizen traffic reports, to community-curated points of interest. On average, Waze users are reporting a traffic jam every 4.2 second, and an accident every 44 seconds. With millions of users, that’s a massive amount of data.
Earlier this summer, Waze released a new version of its iPhone and Android app that includes text-to-speech voice guidance (using technology from Nuance), to allow drivers to receive voice alerts upon approaching potentially dangerous events on the road, as well as voice-based street, exit and highway names. Since the launch of this new version, Waze has added 2 million new users, brining the startup’s total user base to over 7 million active drivers.
Noam Bardin, CEO of Waze tells us that the company has its eyes on international expansion, particularly in Asia. Expanding to China and Korea, in particular, is an imminent goal for the company, and will soon extend its traffic-reporting platform to the countries with the help of the new funding. Already, Waze is being used in the U.S., Israel, Italy, Ecuador and France. And the company has seen accelerated growth in new markets such as Spain, Malaysia, Mexico, and Brazil.
Waze faces competition from Google with respect to Android device navigation functionality, but the startup brings this technology to a number of mobile platforms and has landed impressive partnerships, including one with ABC.