The Zagat survey, the original restaurant reviews provider, has been in business for 32 years. It has been on the block for some time, struggling to compete in a world that has moved away from print. Now, Google made the surprise move to buy it on 9/8, but didn’t announce a deal price. Zagat also offers ratings and revenues of entertainment venues, wine and travel.
Google executive Marissa Mayer said in a blog post that Zagat will become a “cornerstone” of Google’s local services, which include listings and maps for restaurants and other small businesses.
The announcement sent the share price of OpenTable.com, which also provides online restaurant reviews and reservations, sinking over 7%.
For Nina and Tim Zagat, the founding couple of the company, Google’s checkbook also may have bailed them out. The Zagats tried to sell their company in 2008, noted WSJ.
The Zagats will continue to be active in the business as co-Chairs, and for the near-term future, Google will reportedly continue to publish the guides and maintain the subscription product.
RBR-TVBR observation: Google needed The Zagat survey since it is in the map biz as without having a tool to search restaurants Google was weak. Now with Zagat it only enhances their infrastructure.
Zagat’s subscription-based model has enjoyed some success online but increasingly has been stepped on by competitors like Yelp (which Google had contemplated buying). After failing to buy Groupon and lagging behind in the oddly burgeoning market for online deals, Google launched its own online coupon service, Offers, in DC and four other cities this week: Austin, Texas, Boston, Denver and Seattle. Zagat data may soon be integrated into Offers and Google Places (launched 4/10—helps connect local business with people looking for everything from restaurants to dry cleaners) to increase the value proposition for participating restaurants and retailers.