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Friday, September 9, 2011

Google buys prime restaurant guide

Google Buys Zagat

From Publishers Lunch.

Zagat, which first was put up for sale in early 2008 and failed to close a deal, has been acquired by Google. Terms were not disclosed (for now; they will probably be disclosed when Google files their quarterly report).

The company's Marissa Mayer blogs, "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.... I'm incredibly excited to collaborate with Zagat to bring the power of Google search and Google Maps to their products and users, and to bring their innovation, trusted reputation and wealth of experience to our users."

Nina and Tim Zagat write that they will contine as co-chairs and expect to "greatly expand." They note, "We have spent enough time with Google senior management to know that they fully share our belief in user-generated content, and our commitment to accuracy and fairness in providing consumers with the information necessary to make smart decisions about where to eat, travel and shop."

What is really interesting is that it puts Google into the book business with the Zagat Guides.

The New Zealand version is DineOut, which is -- as far I know -- entirely web-based.  When in this country, it is just as useful as Zagat when choosing a restaurant -- and it can be useful to be able to warn others of potential disasters, too.  Witness our embarrassing experience at a local (and posh) suburban restaurant, which advertised BYO meaning you could save damage to the pocket by taking along your own drink.  We are not wine drinkers, so took a beautiful bottle of Chimay Grand Reserve, warmly reviewed by those who know their Trappist beers.  It was also expensive, probably costing twice as much as the supermarket-purchased wines that sat on most of the other tables. 

But what happened?  The proprietors refused to serve it. 

"It's beer," they sneered.

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