By Shira Ovide
Google made the surprise move to buy restaurant-review firm Zagat, bailing out the company’s founders who had tried and failed to sell out.
The 32-year-old Zagat is best known for its pocket-sized burgundy guides that assign consumer rankings on restaurants and other services.
In her blog post announcing the deal, Google executive Marissa Mayer said Zagat will become a “cornerstone” of Google’s local services, which include listings and maps for restaurants and other small businesses. Google has been beefing up its offerings for local businesses as the company expands its tentacles beyond Web searches and search ads.
(Also, Mayer tweets a haiku about the Zagat deal.)
Remember that Google had also offered to buy Yelp, but obviously the search giant has more than moved on.
The announcement of Google’s Zagat deal also is having ripple effects on the share price of OpenTable, the dotcom darling that also provides online restaurant reviews and reservations. OpenTable shares are sinking about 7.2% in recent trading.
For Nina and Tim Zagat, the founding couple of the company, Google’s checkbook also may have bailed them out. The Zagats tried to sell their company in 2008, but sale talks went nowhereas the economy and deal making hit a rocky patch.
Google didn’t announce a deal price, however, so it’s unclear if Zagat’s investors — including investment firm General Atlantic — have made their money back.