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Waze names former Hotwire president Neha Parikh as CEO

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Parikh will replace Noam Bardin as CEO of the crowdsourced navigation service

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Waze has a new CEO: Neha Parikh, the former president of Hotwire and a board member of Carvana. Parikh replaces Noam Bardin, who stepped down as CEO of the Google-owned navigation service last November after leading the company for 12 years.

Parikh will join Waze as CEO starting in June, the company says. She is a veteran of online hospitality brand Expedia, having served in a variety of positions at two of the corporation’s subsidiaries: Hotels.com, where she ended as senior vice president for global brands and retails, and flight and hotel booking service Hotwire, where she is currently president.

As Hotwire’s youngest and first female president, Parikh “led a return to growth by revamping the business model, reshaping the product, and rebuilding the team and culture,” Waze says. The aim is for her to do the same at Waze.

Neha Parikh is the youngest and first female president of Hotwire.
Photo: Carvana

“As Neha leads Waze into the future, she will remain hyper-focused on our passionate community, beloved brand, and best-in-class products,” a spokesperson for the company said.

She was appointed to the board of Carvana in April 2019. The online car marketplace praised Parikh for her focus on customer service. “On my first visit to the Carvana offices, I took a picture of their prominently displayed values, one of which is ‘Your next customer may be your mom,’ which I love,” she said in the press release. “Relentless customer focus has been central to my career, so I’m thrilled to align with a company that puts their customers first.”

Waze was founded in Israel in 2008 by Ehud Shabtai, Amir Shinar, and Uri Levine. The crowdsourced navigation app quickly grew in popularity, praised for its ability to take into account traffic and construction in real time. The app quickly emerged as a top choice among Uber and Lyft drivers. And today, it has 140 million monthly active users who drive more than 24 billion miles (40 billion kilometers) every month.

The company was acquired by Google in 2013 for a reported $1.1 billion. And the app continued to flourish, as Google refrained from absorbing it into its Maps division and allowed it to stay independent.

Like most companies, Waze hit a rough patch during the pandemic. Its number of 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, both decreased significantly. The company laid off 5 percent of its global workforce, or 30 people, in September. Its nascent Carpool service was hit especially hard, as people stopped commuting to work.