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August 27, 2014 / 1 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Waze’

Israeli Tax Authority Kills the Next Great Startup

Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

An innovative Israeli start-up company came up with a great idea in 2010, which it dubbed GetTaxi. The idea is simple and convenient: the GetTaxi mobile app allows you to order a taxi, pay for the ride, rate the driver, and even leave a tip. For the drivers, it offer the convenience of automation, handling the billing, and notifying drivers of potential nearby clients.

This start-up has been so successful, it has reached a million users, making 20,000 orders a day to 6000 drivers, in 20 cities, not to mention, raising $42 million in funding.

But the Israeli tax authority may have just killed this enterprising young start-up.

Last week, the tax authority concluded its investigation of 89 businesses in various sectors. A team of 102 investigators managed to collect about $2.2 million from these businesses, which had under-reported their income.

One sector the team investigated were taxi drivers, traditionally a cash business. But the tax folks had a great idea. They subpoenaed GetTaxi’s internal files, obtaining the records of some three thousand Israeli taxi drivers who used the GetTaxi service. The team then targeted 50 of them, according to a report in Globes.

They compared the orders listed in GetTaxi, and the income the taxi drivers reported, and found that most of the drivers had not recorded all their journeys.

Most of the drivers ended up with a simple fine, some of the more serious cases are undergoing further investigation.

Tax Authority chief Moshe Asher told Globes, “The Tax Authority is keeping its finger on the trigger and uses all technological means to make certain that all citizens and companies pay the true amount of tax and do not put the tax burden on law-abiding citizens.”

In the process, the same tax authority possibly just destroyed a law-abiding start-up company, which had a promising future.

Its unlikely Israeli taxi drivers will continue to completely trust GetTaxi with their business, and that could affect not only GetTaxi’s revenue, but even a future exit or IPO, potentially killing the goose that could have laid the golden income tax egg GetTaxi would have brought in.

But Israelis are a resourceful people. We’ll have to see how each side responds to this challenge.

Not to worry though, in New York and other major cities, the company continues to do well, and the Israeli tax authority is not likely to have a chilling effect on its operation. The IRS is simply less fiercely dedicated than its Israeli counterpart.

True story: A few years ago, a falafel booth owner was approached by a man from a yeshiva, who inquired if Shlomi were willing to donate to the yeshiva the edges from the pita he cuts off when he makes each falafel sandwich? It would feed poor students, the man explained, and help cut back on the yeshiva’s costs.

Shlomi agreed. It’s a good deed, and he had nothing to do with all those pita edges other than dump them in the trash. How many garlic bread crisps could he possibly make anyway?

A few months later, Shlomi and other falafel and shawarma (meat gyro) vendors found themselves inside the offices of Mas Hachnasa, the Israeli income tax authority.

They were surprised to see, sitting opposite them, the man from the yeshiva to which they had all been donating their pita edges, supposedly.

They were even more surprised with the man pulled out all the pita edges the vendors had donated to him, and said the number of edges that he, a tax investigator collected, exceeded the number of individual portions they had reported.

Needless to say, falafel and shawarma stores in Israel today slit the pita open, rather than cut off the top. There’s no evidence left behind that way.

Israel, US, UK Antitrust Panels to review Google-Waze Merger

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Israel’s antitrust regulatory commission is investigating whether the Google-Waze merger constitutes a monopoly.

The Israel Antitrust Authority opened its investigation on Wednesday, the Israeli business daily Globes reported.

The probe will focus on whether Google’s purchase of Waze, a free downloadable navigation application with more than 50 million subscribers, should have obtained permission from the authority before the merger and whether it could create a monopoly in the Israeli market.

Waze on July 25 reported a purchase price of $966 million in cash in its financial report for the second quarter of 2013, Globes reported. The purchase was completed in mid-May.

The Israeli firm’s managers and employees have remained in their Raanana headquarters rather than relocating to Menlo Park, Calif. Google has said that Waze will remain a separate service and an independent company.

The antitrust authority has asked Google Israel’s general manager and Waze Israel’s CEO for financial and other information, according to Globes.

Also investigating the merger are the Federal Trade Commission in the United States and Britain’s Office of Fair Trading.

Chinese Fund Donates $130 million to Technion

Sunday, September 29th, 2013

A Chinese fund, bankrolled by the country’s richest man, is donating $130 million Technion University in a joint venture between the Haifa-based university and Shantou University (STU) to build a new academic facility in Guangdong Province.

The contribution from the Li Ka Shing Foundation is the largest in Technion’s history and one of the largest ever to an Israeli university.

The Guangdong Province and the city of Shantou are earmarking an additional $147 million to fund construction of the new Technion Guangdong Institute of Technology (TGIT) next to Shantou University.

The donation to Technion, made possible in part by profits from the fund’s recent  sale of Waze to Google, will be allocated for the Technion’s home campus.

Savvy Israelis Ahead of US in Smartphone Internet Use

Tuesday, June 11th, 2013

Israel is ahead of the United States and Europe in the use of Internet on smartphones, and Israel is almost at the top of pack in the percentage of people owning smartphones, according to Google and other market surveys.

Israel is the country that gave the world chat instant messaging, disk on-key, Waze and MobileEye, among hundreds of other high-tech gadgets and computer programs.

The smartphone came to Israel in 2009, two years after it was launched in the United States and Europe, but Israelis have made up for lost time.

Approximately 93 percent of Israelis use Internet through smartphone, compared with 83 percent in the United States, and 77 percent watch YouTube, according to Google and Ipsos MediaCT surveys, which examine habits of smartphone use worldwide.

More than 57 percent of Israelis have a smartphone, up from 35 percent last year. At even half that rate of growth, Israelis will be the most smartphone-saturated country in the world next year. The penetration in France is only 42 percent and in Germany is 40 percent.

Approximately 60 percent of Americans are estimated to have smartphones, and 62 percent of Britons have the high-tech gadget.

Israelis have the popular habit of answering phones in the middle of a chupah or Brit Mila. The new marketing surveys show that half of Israelis feel comfortable in using their smartphones at social occasions. When using the smartphones in coffee shops, more than half of the respondents said they use one hand for holding the coffee cup and the other for the smartphone.

When Israelis start trying to speak with the coffee cups and drinking the smartphones, then we knew have a big problem.

Google to Buy Waze for $1.3 Billion

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

Google will fork out $1.3 billion to buy the Israeli-based Waze social-friendly navigation app, the Hebrew-language Globes business newspaper reported Sunday. Waze’s staff reportedly will remain in Raanana.

Facebook reportedly was in front of the lineup to buy Waze, but Waze rejected the condition that its staff be transferred to the United States. Waze may also have been holding out for more money, and Google came up with the right price.

Apple had been rumored to be a potential bidder, but Apple CEO Tim Cook denied those reports.

Waze has soared in popularity, with more than 50 million users around the world, and that number is growing every day.

Google has shown that it loves Israel. In 2010, it bought up website gadget developer LabPixies for $25 million and interactive video-clip developer QuikSee for $10 million, and has set up a Google office here. Facebook, on the other hand, has closed down the Israeli operations of most of the companies it bought up.

The Waze app allows drivers using smartphone and tablet to share information on driving times and traffic situations, as well as the location of police radar traps, accidents and hazardous conditions. Based on user-shared information, it helps users find the fastest path to their destination taking into account traffic conditions and preferred routes.

The $1.3 billion price tag is more than 40 times the $30 million of financing Waze received less than year ago, three years after it was founded.  Waze’s founders will be instant multi-millionaires thanks to the Google purchase, which has not been officially confirmed.

But no one has denied the purchase eitehr. Waze told Globes “no comment,” and Google said, “We don’t relate to rumors and speculation.”

The influx of another $1.3 billion into Israel is great news for the Finance Ministry and for anyone purchasing items whose prices are based on the dollar. It is terrible news for exporters and for Israelis whose salaries come from the United States.

The influx of dollars will put downward pressure on the shekel-dollar rate, which dropped last week to 3.61 shekels to the dollar.

Last month. Warren Buffet paid out $2 billion to buy the remaining shares of the Iscar precision tool maker, and PepsiCo and Coca Cola are now rumored to be offering approximately $2 billion for the Israeli SodaStream manufacturer of machines that convert tap water into soda, and which had become an international hit.

The influx of those big bucks, along with the prospects of Israel’s exporting gas and bringing in more foreign currency, has strengthened the shekel. It also is a major headache for corporations and wage earners whose profits and salaries are in dollars and then converted to shekels.

Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer has tried to battle the drop in the shekel-dollar rate by cutting the interest rate by a quarter of a percent, twice in two weeks, and announcing a $2 billion buying binge of dollars. So far, the “Fischer effect” has been negligible and the rate has continued to drop.

Following the report of the Google purchase of Waze, the exchange rate may drop again Monday when currency trading resumes, unless Fischer buys more dollars – lots of them.

Waze’s Demand to Keep Jobs in Israel Freezes Facebook’s Bid

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

Israel’s Waze user-based social mapping and navigation startup seems to be too Zionist for Facebook, which has been trying to pay up to $1 billion for the company.

Facebook reportedly insists that the Waze management team re-locate to California from Israel, a condition that money can’t buy, at least not yet, according to the AllThingsD website.

Google, which has an R & D center in Israel, also has been interested in buying up Waze, but Apple denies similar rumors.

The purchase of Waze by Facebook would be logical because Waze’s success is based on drivers reporting to each other traffic conditions and radar traps. Facebook does not offer any mapping services.

Waze. Outsmarting Google and Facebook. Together.

Friday, May 24th, 2013

With the deal Facebook and Waze not yet closed, Google has reportedly jumped into the fray,  making a play for the Israeli start-up company, who’s opening bid is at $1 billion dollars.

There’s another alternative also on the table now, Waze turns down both giants, keeps its independence, and raises money with another round of venture capital.

Waze currently has 40 million registered users, and is generally considered to be best navigation program out there.

Any which way they go, Waze wins.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/waze-outsmarting-google-and-facebook-together/2013/05/24/

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