Zagat Rates Google a 30

In a move of gastronomical proportions, Google announced on its official blog yesterday that it has acquired Zagat. According to Zagat’s website the Zagat Survey began as a hobby in 1979 and has now grown into the “world’s leading provider of consumer survey-based information on where to eat, drink, stay & play worldwide.” Started by Nina and Tim Zagat, the survey was born from a discussion with friends at a dinner party about how bad the newspaper restaurant reviews were. Tim came up with the idea to survey friends. This led to about 200 amateur critics rating restaurants based on  food, décor, service and cost. The results of the survey were distributed all over town and they were an instant success. Today, Zagat covers more than 100 countries and has more than 350,000 surveyors worldwide. A 30 rating is a perfect score on a Zagat Survey.

Zagat Home Page

Marissa Mayer, VP, Local, Maps and Location Services, made the announcement yesterday. This is a move that is sure to bolster local service offerings for Google. According to her blog post, “Zagat will be a cornerstone of our local offering—delighting people with their impressive array of reviews, ratings and insights, while enabling people everywhere to find extraordinary (and ordinary) experiences around the corner and around the world. ” This deal comes at a critical time for Google. In a Reuters article,  Brian Fitz, an analyst at UBS, is quoted as saying, “Google needs reviews and other content for its “Google Places” websites, in part to fend off criticism. It has been accused of using comments from review sites such as Yelp, essentially siphoning off their readers and, more importantly, their clicks.” This acquisition will certainly give them a steady foothold in the ever growing local services market.

Not everyone is a winner in this deal. OpenTable, “provider of free, real-time online restaurant reservations for diners and reservation and guest management solutions for restaurants”, took a real hit in market trading yesterday. There are fears that Google may want to get into the restaurant reservation business with this acquisition. The local business market is on a growing trend right now, so there is no doubt that the behemoth Google will shore up their bottom line in this market.

While not everyone is excited about this deal, it is no doubt a great acquisition for Google. Zagat brings a strong reputation to the table and pretty much gives instant credibility to “Google Places” reviews. It will be interesting to see what direction Google heads with the Zagat acquisition. I guess we’ll just have to keep our eyes peeled. For now, all I can say is bon appétit!

Google Acquires Angstro, another Social Networking Startup

Google continues its acquisition drive with Angstro, which is a social networking startup. Angstro has a unique feature of pulling in data from various social networks and websites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. It was also a finalist in the Techcrunch 50. Angstro apps are specifically made for interoperability between various social networks and Google surely sees a bright future in this technology.

As more and more people join social networks, it becomes harder for them to set priorities for networks. Angstro makes managing multiple networks easier by aggregating them in a single location providing a considerable amount of functionality. The beta period of Angstro ended on the 20th of this month and it has proven to be extremely fruitful for Angstro.

Google has acquired  Jambool,  Slide: a social gaming market and Metaweb, a semantic search engine.  With these acquisitions, Google is either gathering a considerable amount of talent and technology or killing any possible uprising of competition. All these acquisitions give Google a considerable amount of entropy as they can pick any number of these acquired technologies and use it in their existing services to enhance them further.

We all are tired of seeing how Google is trying to  mimic  Bing search in visual appeal. Hopefully this acquisition will cook up something new at Google.


Google Acquires Plink, a Mobile Visual Search Engine

Google has recently acquired a ‘mobile visual search’ startup from UK which goes by the name of Plink. This is the first time a Google acquisition has set foot in UK. Plink has announced this on the Plinkart blog and their twitter account. The financial details of this acquisition have been kept secret though.

The official blog post at the PlinkArt blog says,

We have some very exciting news Plink has just been acquired by Google.
We started Plink to bring the power of visual search to everyone, and we’re delighted to be taking a big step towards that goal today. Google has already shown that it’s serious about investing in this space with Google Goggles, and for the Plink team the opportunity to take our algorithms to Google-scale was just too exciting to pass up.
Plink founders claim its Android app has been downloaded over 50,000 times in the last four weeks. The two founders of Plink,  PhD students Mark Cummins and James Philbin, will now join the Google Goggles team and help enhance their own product under Google.
Plink was first noticed by Google when they won a sum of $100,000 from the Android Developer Challenge in December. Plink is currently available as a popular Android app named PlinkArt which is similar to Google Goggles.