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, dÃ©cor, 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.
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 offeringâ€”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 appÃ©tit!