Google’s hunger for acquisitions continues, with news today that the search giant has gobbled up 32-year-old restaurant review company Zagat for an undisclosed price. The deal is interesting in part because Zagat — which started in New York City with its trademarked red restaurant guides — has been a bit of a late adopter to the online world.
Interestingly, the deal comes just a few days after Seattle’s Urbanspoon — owned by CityGrid Media — entered into an agreement to feature restaurant reviews from Zagat. Also, it is worth noting that former Microsoft CTO and food nut Nathan Myhrvold was an investor in Zagat, participating in the company’s $31 million venture capital round in 2000.
In a blog post, Google’s Marissa Mayer writes that Zagat will be “a cornerstone of our local offering.” She continues:
“With Zagat, we gain a world-class team that has more experience in consumer based-surveys, recommendations and reviews than anyone else in the industry. Founded by Tim and Nina Zagat more than 32 years ago, Zagat has established a trusted and well-loved brand the world over, operating in 13 categories and more than 100 cities. The Zagats have demonstrated their ability to innovate and to do so with tremendous insight. 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.”
The deal follows a string of acquisitions by Google, most notably its planned $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility. It also signals a deeper push into targeted search, an area where Microsoft’s Bing has been focusing its efforts.
For that, the deal makes a lot of sense. But it is not everyday that Google buys up a company that got its start printing pocket-sized guidebooks in the 1980s.
Meanwhile, on the Zagat site today, the review site gives Google the top rating of “30” in “local, social, mobile and useful.”
Let’s see how they review Google after a year or two.