Google is laying off employees at Waze; merges the popular navigation app with its own mapping products

Google is cutting jobs at its popular navigation app Waze as it continues to merge the unit with its own mapping products, CNBC reported on Tuesday. According to the report, the decision comes as the tech giant plans to integrate Waze into Google’s ads system.

In an email that was viewed by CNBC, Chris Phillips, the executive in charge of Google’s maps division called Geo, told the employees that the company is shifting its Waze strategy to include Google ads rather than using a separate ads system. Phillips said that the move resulted in layoffs.

“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 email did not provide specific details regarding the number of jobs that will be affected by the changes. However, internal documentation reviewed by CNBC indicates that the Waze unit currently employs over 500 individuals. It’s worth noting that Google acquired Waze in 2013 for approximately $1.3 billion.

The layoff news comes just five months after Google’s parent company announced it was laying off about 12,000 jobs, or 6% of its workforce as companies stake their futures on artificial intelligence.

The decision was made in response to a significant slowdown in revenue growth over the past year. Alongside the layoffs, the company has been streamlining its operations, discontinuing certain projects, and prioritizing efficiency.

During this restructuring phase, Google has been integrating Waze into its Geo unit, responsible for maps and related services. As part of this organizational change, Neha Parikh, the then-CEO, was announced to be stepping down.

The Waze app employs a unique crowd-sourcing technique to determine the fastest driving routes with real-time traffic updates. It boasts an impressive user base of approximately 140 million active users.

Chris Phillips expressed the difficulty of making these decisions in an email, acknowledging the valuable contributions made by each individual at Waze. He conveyed his gratitude and respect for their accomplishments and the impact they have had on Waze’s success and company culture.

A Google spokesperson confirmed the layoffs in a statement to CNBC and added that the company “remains deeply committed to growing Waze’s unique brand, its beloved app and its thriving community of volunteers and users.”  Waze also confirmed the layoffs in a statement provided to The Verge.

“Google remains deeply committed to growing Waze’s unique brand, its beloved app, and its thriving community of volunteers and users,” Caroline Bourdeau, Waze’s head of PR, said in the statement. “In order to create a better, more seamless long-term experience for Waze advertisers, we’ve begun transitioning Waze’s existing advertising system to Google Ads technology. As part of this update, we’ve reduced those roles focused on Waze Ads monetization and are providing employees with mobility resources and severance options in accordance with local requirements.”