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Zagat rates high, and Google says it’s buying

Tim (left) and Nina Zagat “have demonstrated their ability to innovate,’’ Google says. Yesterday, Zagat’s website offered a “review’’ of the Internet search giant. Tim (left) and Nina Zagat “have demonstrated their ability to innovate,’’ Google says. Yesterday, Zagat’s website offered a “review’’ of the Internet search giant. (Mike Derer/Associated Press/File 2008)
By Rachel Metz
Associated Press / September 9, 2011

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SAN FRANCISCO - This “iconic’’ publisher of restaurant reviews is “trusted’’ and “well-loved’’ by foodies. Customers love its “ability to innovate’’ and gush over its “tremendous insight.’’

Google said yesterday that it is buying Zagat, publisher of the slender guidebooks that offer one-paragraph reviews and numerical ratings, peppered with partial quotes from people who love and hate the establishments.

Google plans to add Zagat’s online reviews to its Google Maps service and its basic search results. Google said Zagat’s style, drawing on snippet-size customer reviews, was mobile before mobile was cool.

“Zagat has established a trusted and well-loved brand the world over,’’ Google said. “The Zagats have demonstrated their ability to innovate and to do so with tremendous insight.’’

The founders, the husband-and-wife team of Nina and Tim Zagat, will remain cochairs of the 32-year-old company and will use Google’s resources and expertise to expand.

Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president of local, maps, and location services, said Zagat “will be a cornerstone of our local offering.’’ Google and others aim to improve their local offerings as a way to sell more ads.

A BGC Partners analyst, Colin Gillis, said the purchase was smart. He said Zagat is like the little brother of Yelp, the leading online review site. Google attempted to buy Yelp in 2009, at one point offering about $500 million for the San Francisco company, according to published reports. Terms of the Zagat acquisition were not disclosed.