When Google Acquires
And so Google’s acquisition of Zagat finally bears fruit: Your parents’ favorite dining guide is now the backbone of Google+ Local, which is replacing Google Places. So SoMoLo.
Here’s the deal: Users can still write reviews. The integration with Zagat means those reviews will now be factored into the familiar score ranging from 1 to 30. Plus, expect some actual professionally written material thrown into the mix. (Imagine that.) The integration with Google+ means you’ll also see reviews written by anyone in your Circles. (The bad news is you’ll get the phantom ding from any unclosed Gchat conversations, which drives us batty.)
A report from inside the Google-ifying Zagat Survey comes to us from the company’s Operations Developer, who has published a blog post reflecting on the first two days of Google life, describing the process in a level of post-acquisition detail we don’t usually see.
Dave Reisner first realized something was up on Wednesday, when “unfamiliar people start to infiltrate the office and walk around as if they’re scoping out the employees, and the office space.” The next day, Nina Zagat sent out a company-wide email calling a meeting in all caps, and blindsided employees with the announcement of the Google buy.
“At this point, the announcement of ‘the biggest news of the 32 year history of Zagat’comes as no shock that Zagat has been purchased … but by Google? Wow. My nerdy dream come true,” Mr. Reisner writes.
Then came lunch.
How much is a catalog of restaurant reviews better-associated with a little red book worth in the Yelp area? Not a heckuva lot according the Wall Street Journal. The paper’s source says Google paid a mere $125 million to acquire the 32-year-old company. That’s the same valuation Zagat claimed in an investment round 11 years ago. Zagat took itself off the market back in 2008 when no buyer came forward willing to meet its asking price of $200 million.
Ryan Charles was the social media whiz kid at Zagat: the aging empire that was once part of the Silicon Alley 100 but has been drifting further and further out of touch as Yelp, Google, Citisearch, Menupages and others scooped the old Zagat survey. At Zagat, Mr. Charles headed up mobile partnerships with Foursquare, Foodspotting, and took the lead on mobile apps, which kept Zagat in the game. He left to start Consmr, another user reviews-based site.
The markets reacted to Google’s acquisition of venerable guide brand Zagat, pushing Open Table’s stock price down eight percent. The move is based on the assumption that Google is trying to get closer to the action in terms of reviews, reservations and someday payments.
JP Morgans analyst Doug Anmuth thinks Google will integrate Zagat Read More
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.
The exodus of corporate types to the start-up world typically focuses on Wall St. or the tech giants like Google, but the fever seems to be going around the Zagat’s offices.
In March, Zagat’s head of mobile headed to WeWork lab’s Consmr and just yesterday, Steve Rowe, its chief revenue officer jumped ship, for local start-up MyCityWay, reports Business Insider. For MyCityWay, the message is clear: time to make the paper.
The brand new WeWork labs will be welcoming Ryan Charles and his startup Consmr when they open their doors Friday.
Word broke today that Charles was leaving his job as head of mobile at the venerable Zagat guide to focus full time on his startup, which is a sort of Yelp for consumer products Read More