Google cuts jobs at Waze as it continues to merge mapping products

on Jun28
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Todd Haselton | CNBC

Google is cutting jobs at its Waze mapping service as it merges the unit with its own map products.

In an email to employees on Tuesday, Chris Phillips, who oversees Google’s maps division called Geo, said the company is shifting its Waze strategy to include Google ads rather than using a separate ads system. That move will result in layoffs, according to the email, which was viewed by CNBC.

“We have decided to transition Waze’s ads monetization to be managed by the Global Business Organization (GBO), similar to Google Maps,” Phillips wrote. “Unfortunately, this will result in a reduction of Waze Ads monetization-focused roles in sales, marketing, operations and analytics.”

The company hopes to “create a more scalable and optimized Waze Ads product,” Phillips wrote, adding that it will “wind down the current Waze Ads product while we focus on building new Waze Ads powered by Google Ads.”

Phillips said the company would be notifying advertisers and partners of the change on Wednesday, and told employees that his team will answer questions and share its plans for next steps at “our next Waze Town Hall” on July 11.

The email didn’t say how many jobs would be eliminated, and Google didn’t immediately respond to request for comment. The Waze unit has more than 500 employees, according to internal documentation viewed by CNBC. Google acquired Waze for about $1.3 billion in 2013.

Following a year of dramatically decelerating revenue growth, Google parent Alphabet announced in January that it was laying off 12,000 employees, or 6% of its workforce. The company has also eliminated some projects, downsized others and said it’s focusing on becoming more efficient.

Since December, Google has been consolidating Waze with its own Geo unit, which oversees maps. As a part of the shakeup, the company announced then-CEO Neha Parikh would be stepping down.

The Waze app uses a crowdsourcing technique that allows it to determine the fastest driving route from one location to another, with the most recent traffic information. Waze has roughly 140 million active users.

“Decisions like these are incredibly difficult,” Phillips wrote. “Each one of these Wazers contributed to Waze’s success and culture, and I want to express my gratitude and respect for what they have achieved.”

A Google spokesperson confirmed the layoffs and other details of Phillips’ email in a statement and said the company “remains deeply committed to growing Waze’s unique brand, its beloved app and its thriving community of volunteers and users.”

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