Waze: Suffering from the Rona?

September 18, 2020

Less driving and carpooling during the pandemic means less ad revenue for a certain navigation and mapping service. The Verge reports, “Google’s Waze Lays Off 5 Percent of its Workforce, Closes Offices in Asia and Latin America.” For Waze, that five percent represents about 30 folks out of its 555 workers. Those jobs mostly come from the sales, marketing, and partnerships departments. The company hopes to strike a balance by adding a similar number of jobs in technology and engineering in upcoming months. We wish them luck with that. The offices to be shuttered in Malaysia, Singapore, Colombia, Chile, and Argentina also represent a trade-off. Waze plans to focus more on markets in which it had been growing—the US, the UK, France, Brazil, Canada, Italy, and Mexico.

Reporter Andrew J. Hawkins writes:

“As shelter-in-place and working from home become the new norm, fewer people are using Waze for their daily navigation needs. Fewer eyeballs on the app means less advertising revenue for the company. Waze, which was acquired by Google in 2013 for a reported $1.1 billion, has seen a dip in both monthly active users, or the number of customers using the app each month, and driven kilometers, the metric by which the company measures how far its customers drive while using Waze.”

Though Waze’s numbers have been gradually recovering since lockdown restrictions were lifted in some countries, the global weekly driven kilometers dipped by a striking 70 percent in June. As one might imagine, usage the company’s ride-sharing service, Waze Carpool, has also dwindled. We’re told:

“With more people working from home, fewer people are using Waze Carpool to share rides with co-workers or other neighbors who work along a similar route. As a result, Waze is shrinking the number of people who work on its standalone carpooling service. Earlier this year, Waze was on track to cross 1 million monthly carpool trips globally, and now the company is nowhere near that, a spokesperson said.”

DarkCyber finds that completely unsurprising. Hawkins gets much of his information from an email Waze’s CEO Noam Bardin sent to employees, which is reproduced in full at the end of the article. He notes the company is sympathetic to its workers who must say goodbye, and Bardin pledges to help them into the beginning of next year with severances, bonuses, and health insurance.

Cynthia Murrell, September 18, 2020

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