Planet Google

Google Tries to Make Its Copycat Products More Useful By Buying Zagat

zagatslide Google Tries to Make Its Copycat Products More Useful By Buying Zagat

The happy couple, in dotcom days.

If you’ve ever tried to click on a restaurant listing off of Google Places, well, let’s just say it makes you miss Yelp. And if you’ve ever used Google Offers instead of Groupon, then you’d be the first person Betabeat has ever heard of.  This might explain why Google just acquired Zagat. After failing to acquire both Yelp and Groupon, Zagat’s millions of ratings and reviews “will be a cornerstone of our local offering,” writes Google’s Marissa Mayer in a peppy post announcing the news.

The deal price has yet to be disclosed, but as Business Insider points out, Zagat took a reported $200 million acquisition price off the table back in 2008 when it couldn’t find any buyers. Indeed, although Ms. Mayer touts Zagat’s 32-year-old history (they made the Silicon Alley Reporter 100 list back in 2001 for being ahead of this whole internet thing) and the fact that  “their surveys may be one of the earliest forms of UGC (user-generated content)—gathering restaurant recommendations from friends, computing and distributing ratings before the Internet as we know it today even existed,” Zagat questionnaires seem a touch out-of-date with more lightweight UGC in these more mobile times, i.e. Yelp, Foursquare tips, etc.

Regardless, Google has the the money to spend and the need to spend it: thus far, although touted as a “Groupon Killer” and a “Yelp Killer,” Google Offers and Google Places/Google Maps have failed to do just that.

Meanwhile, the occasion of the deal has been excuse to engage in the kind of humor worthy of a Zagat’s write-up. As in this mock restaurant review announcing the deal on Zagat.com. Or Ms. Mayer’s “Acquisition haiku” via Twitter, “Delightful deal done; Zagat and Google now one; foodies have more fun!”

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