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Company: Waze

Defender: Michal Habdank-Kolaczkowski, Director of Communications

Defend Your Startup

More than 300,000 people in the Bay Area have installed Waze -- a crowd-sourcing smartphone app that tells you how to avoid traffic snarls and suggests alternate routes. Just how good of an idea is this?

 

With all of the concern over distracted driving, do you really tell drivers to use their smartphone in the car?

H-K: It's a lot safer than looking at a paper map. We've designed the app so it's all voice-guided. "Turn left here, turn right there." You only have to wave your hand over the screen.

You've said your goal is to save drivers five minutes on the road. Isn't Waze a lot of trouble just for that?

H-K: It does more than that. One day I Wazed home (from Palo Alto to San Francisco), and 101 and 280 were both terrible, I grew up here and thought I knew every road, but Waze showed me a route I'd never taken before. I made that ride during a heavy commute in 31 minutes! It was one of my life's very few aha moments.

Doesn't the app lack a conscience? Won't it send us along frontage roads to leap-frog traffic jams?

H-K: It used to, but most people weren't using them, so eventually it stopped. It was trying to be helpful, but it didn't understand the social rules for engagement on the road. It was kind of a douche move.