Some journeys definitely do take a long time – Waze – the Israeli social-mapping app took a good 7 years to make it there. Today Google announced that they would be acquiring the company for $1.1 billion. The Waze CEO explains his motivation:

Larry Page, Brian McClendon and the Google Maps teams have been following our progress closely and are excited about what we’ve accomplished. They share our vision of a global mapping service, updated in real time by local communities, and wish to help us accelerate. We are excited about the prospect of working with the Google Maps team to enhance our search capabilities and to join them in their ongoing efforts to build the best map of the world.

A big of the motivation from the Google side of the equation is helping users avoid traffic:

Bardin, the CEO, also explains that he prefers not to follow the path of IPO:

Why not stay completely independent? We asked ourselves: “Will Waze still be a fun project to participate in, and a fun place to work, as a stand-alone public company?” Choosing the path of an IPO often shifts attention to bankers, lawyers and the happiness of Wall Street, and we decided we’d rather spend our time with you, the Waze community.

But let’s be frank, Waze didn’t generate a dime of revenue during its entire history, so the path to IPO is not even an option (we’re far from the frothy market days of 1999). So I don’t think that Bardin’s logic holds water, though it probably is what his team wants to hear.

In any case, it is a remarkable achievement. Here are some of the numbers:

  •  50 million active users when the app was acquired
  • Drivers shared 90 million traffic reports in 2012
  • As they drove 6 billion miles (9.66 billion kilometres)
  • 65,000 map editors made a total of 500 million map edits

I’d call those user numbers (dug up by NextWeb) pretty engaging…