We were wondering what Google was up to when it dropped Yelp and other third-party services from Google Places back in July. It looks like the company had a plan after all. Today, the search giant announced that it is acquiring Zagat, one of the longest-running and well-known location rating services. Zagat ratings for locations all around the world will be integrated into Google Places and Maps, giving users professional recommendations on top of the user recommendations already built into the Places app. Want to know which restaurant to check out? Now Google can tell you.
“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,” said Marissa Mayer, Google’s VP of local, maps, and location servies. “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. Their iconic pocket-sized guides with paragraphs summarizing and ‘snippeting’ sentiment were ‘mobile’ before ‘mobile’ involved electronics. Today, Zagat provides people with a democratized, authentic and comprehensive view of where to eat, drink, stay, shop and play worldwide based on millions of reviews and ratings.”
The Zagat homepage (see above) also shows that the company is excited about the sale, giving Google a perfect 30 out of 30 in all categories.
“We believe this union is the right next step for our employees, our users and for our business, all of which will benefit from the additional resources and reach that Google provides,” said Nina and Tim Zagat in their own post. “Going forward, we will remain active in the business as co-Chairs, helping to ensure that the combination of Zagat’s and Google’s assets and capabilities will maximize our product quality and growth.”
The move may be smart for Zagat, which has seen its popularity wane in recent years due to heavy competition from Google, Yelp, and other social-rating services that keep cropping up on the Web. But did Google throw Yelp to the curb to pick up Zagat or did Yelp ask to be removed from Google Places? We aren’t sure.
Fans of Saturday Night Live in the early 1990s may remember the Zagats sketch. If not, well, here’s a little reminder.