Google Buys Zagat Restaurant Ratings Company

8 09 2011

Google has just bought Zagat, the internationally known restaurant ratings company. On the NY Times‘ Deal Book blog, Michael J. De La Merced filed this report:

Google has agreed to buy Zagat, the guide to restaurants around the country, in an effort by the search giant to expand its local offerings.

Terms of the transaction, including price, were not disclosed. Tim and Nina Zagat, the husband-and-wife team behind the company, said they planned to remain involved in the business as co-chairs.

Known for its 30-point scale and its quote-laden reviews, Zagat has grown from a two-page typed list to a global empire with millions of loyal readers and reviewers happy to rave about their favorite restaurants and bars.

Letter from Nina and Tim Zagat
But the company has faced several challenges in recent years, notably a slew of Internet-based competitors that provide an alternate outlet for restaurant reviews. Zagat (pronounced zuh-GAHT) has responded by partnering with a number of online players, including Facebook, Foursquare and, yes, Google.

A little over three years ago, Zagat put itself up for sale and hired Goldman Sachs as an adviser. It wrapped up that effort six months later after running into difficulties in the sales process.

In a blog post, Marissa Mayer, Google’s top executive for local and location services, wrote that Zagat would become the cornerstone for the search giant’s local offerings.

“Their iconic pocket-sized guides with paragraphs summarizing and ’snippeting’ sentiment were ‘mobile’ before ‘mobile’ involved electronics,” she wrote.

She had more to say on Twitter in verse form, writing:

Delightful deal done
Zagat and Google now one
foodies have more fun!

For their part, the Zagats wrote in a letter on their company Web site, “We couldn’t be happier to see our baby placed into such good hands and are looking forward to being Googlers in the years ahead.”

More cheekily, Zagat scored the deal a perfect 30 on its Web site.

Zagat was advised by the Peter J. Solomon Company and Allen & Company.




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