Google buys Zagat

Added by on September 8, 2011

Google announced on Thursday that it has acquired Zagat, a worldwide restaurant guide featuring user reviews, ratings, top rankings, menus, and reservations.

Google’s acquisition is a completely new niche for the search engine giant and positions Google alongside companies and sites like Yahoo Inc, OpenTable Inc, and Yelp.

OpenTable, a restaurant-booking service that also publishes reviews and ratings of restaurants saw its shares dive by 8 percent to $ 57.50 in midday trading though it recovered from a low of 54.50 earlier in the day.

Zagat, in business for over thirty years, polls consumers and compiles reviews about restaurants all over the world. With the takeover by Google Inc, Zagat is being described as the new corner stone for the internet giant and is going to work along with the online mapping service and search engine, said a spokesman of Google.

Zagat has filled a void for the search engine giant, which is seeking authoritative reviews for their “Google Places” service and to address criticism it has received. Google Places had come into very serious criticism for using reviews from third-party review sites that did not have authority or accountability.

A Federal Trade Commission investigation into Google’s use of  third-party reviews had put Google Inc in a very precarious position with respect to providing credible reviews.

Google Vice President, Marissa Mayer posted a blog entry on September 8 saying that she found that the earliest forms of user-generated content was used by Zagat’s founders, Tim and Nina Zagat, who issued burgundy pocket-sized guides to restaurants in over 100 cities.

Tim and Nina Zagat said in a statement on Thursday that they were thrilled to see their “baby” go to such good hands and start as official “googlers.”

Zagat had enlisted Goldman Sachs to sell the ratings and review business as far back as 2008. Due to the recession there were no buyers, said a spokesman of Goldman Sachs. Goldman Sachs expected the company to fetch as much as US $200 million. So far, Google has declined to mention the price it paid to buy Zagat.