It’s not the dream of every startup company, but it sure seems that way sometimes – collecting a massive buyout check and joining one of the collectives. That just happened to Waze, an app famous for user-generated and edited maps that featured real-time traffic and routing information from its broad community. That community now belongs to Google, after a modest $1.03 billion buyout a couple of weeks ago. Google now gets to benefit from the community and offer slight improvements to their already great maps by adding the Waze development team. More importantly, they made sure Facebook didn’t do those things by negotiating a successful buyout of their own.
But, back to Waze, which is now $1.03 billion richer. The Israel-based startup team will remain in its native land and continue working independently (Google says “for now” on its blog). It’s a win for Waze, because, like so many other companies that get bought out, they don’t have to figure out a way to make money off their service (and, you know, the part about getting $1.03 billion). That raises the question – who’s next? Israel has proven to be fertile ground for tech startups lately, including many that have that problem of not being able to make a buck (or enough bucks). Here are a few that might just decide the time is right to accept a nice, large chunk of cash in the near future.
Viber has made its name and grown its user base by taking something people have to pay for, and making it free. Text, image, and picture messaging are all free while using the app, along with free HD VoIP calling. If you live in Wi-Fi, Viber takes away that many reasons to give money to your telecom. Using your actual phone number as your user name means contact book integration. Combine that with cross-platform functionality (and that Viber is available in some form for just about every OS under the sun) and you have a winner.
Thing is, Viber doesn’t actually make money. That’s not saying they don’t make a profit – Viber actually does not generate revenue, at all. That makes the company, which was started by an American-Israeli entrepreneur, an intriguing buyout prospect – mostly, because they have a significant user base, a well-loved service, and the lack of money coming in means that they might just listen to the right offer. $20 million in investor capital is keeping it afloat for now – we’ll have to see if anyone in big tech is willing to throw a little more in their direction.
People like pictures of other people. They like pictures of famous places, or pretty landscapes. They are, on average, less enthusiastic about pictures of themselves, even when taking selfies into account. After all, how many takes go into a selfie? Not one. That’s because flattery is not the camera’s strong suit. It is, however, the strong suit of Pixtr.
Pixtr is an app with a simplified, narrow take on photo editing. You upload pictures of faces, the app does in just a few seconds what a professional makeup crew or photoshop would normally do. The app does away with facial blemishes, improves skin tone, and adjusts the lighting in the picture to make sure that your best face gets put forward (that’s their tagline, actually) in all your photos. The app is free for iOS, coming soon for Android, and looks ripe for someone else’s picking.
LinkedIn already did the professional social network thing, helping people to create and maintain career contacts. But, the people behind Bizzabo realized that contacts you make online don’t often mean that much. The best kind of networking is still done in person, so they made an app that helps you do just that.
Bizzabo can be used by event organizers and attendees. Those attending professional meetups and events can see guest lists and receive suggestions on who to seek out and meet while they’re at the event. Fellow Bizzabo users can send messages to each other within the app while attending the event, and arrange to make face-to-face meetings. The general idea is to cut away the awkwardness involved in approaching new people, and the time wasted in talking to people that might not be the most helpful to your goals.
Event organizers, on the other hand, can use the app to set up and promote events, communicating directly with attendees through the app. A recent update has made it easier for potential attendees to browse for events using the app, as well.
Like any good startup, Bizzabo has done a great job of finding a niche problem and approaching it in a modern, networked way, making it an interesting prospect. It’s a free app, and you can find it for iOS or Android.
You might have heard of the e-hail taxi app Uber, which recently managed to get around the regulations in NYC and get started serving the city. Thing is, they aren’t the only app being invited to try out e-hailing during a one-year trial program. There’s another Israel-based app called GetTaxi in the mix, headed in the United States by Jing Wang Herman – a licensed cab driver herself.
The app allows you to order a taxi online to your location, and pay after the ride. Cabbies using the app will see a map with all the requests open to them, and can select which fare they want to pick up. The app goes one step further, though – you can check to see if others around you are going to the same place. If there are, you have the option to merge your orders and split the cab fare.
It’s a promising idea, and now GetTaxi has one year to make it big in the Big Apple. If they can make it there, odds are they can make it anywhere.
Mobli is arguably most famous for being one of the primary benefactors of the Instagram buyout, as thousands of users that wanted no part of Facebook’s takeover migrated over to the still-independent startup. In fact, Mobli even started a contest called MyLastInstagram in order to attract new users – I think the title of the contest is pretty self-explanatory.
Mobli is not that much different from Instagram – a social network for sharing photos and videos, with real-time uploading from events like concerts encouraged. Those browsing for content can do so by uploader, location, or subject, and can check out real-time feeds from multiple accounts at the same event or place.
Mobli does bring in cash through advertising on their site, helping keep the core service free. It’s been enough to get CEO and founder Moshiko Hogeg to turn down buyout offers thus far. But, who knows if that will last considering the amounts of money being thrown around lately. As Mobli’s user base continues to grow, it’s going to get more and more attention, which will translate into more and more dollar signs.