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September 08, 2011

Google Expands its Locations Palette with Acquisition of Zagat

By Tammy Wolf, TMCnet Web Editor

Google (News - Alert) certainly has a lot of food on its plate but the company is more than ready to handle it, as reflected in today’s ground-breaking announcement by the search engine giant.

Zagat, the world leader in consumer-based surveys, recommendations and reviews, has been bought out by Google, a move that will now bring the power of Google’s most popular products and services, Google Search and Google Maps, to the trusted restaurant review company.

While the terms of the deal have not been disclosed, Marissa Mayer, vice president of Local, Maps and Location Services for Google, had a lot to say in her blog in regards to the acquisition.

“Moving forward, Zagat will be a cornerstone of our local offering – delighting people with their impressive array of reviews, ratings and insights, while enabling people everywhere to find extraordinary (and ordinary) experiences around the corner and around the world,” said Mayer, who just this week was in the spotlight after being harassed and threatened by a San Antonio man over Twitter (News - Alert).

According to Techcrunch, it’s rather clear that the acquisition is Google’s attempt at boosting its own database of reviews. While Google had its eye on Yelp (News - Alert) back in 2009, that prospective deal ended once Yelp turned down Google’s rather generous $500 million deal. Since then, Google introduced Hotpot as a way to “push deeper in the realm of location-based services,” recently incorporating it into its Google Places service, which allows users to search for, rate and review local businesses and attractions in a simple interface.

For Zagat, this isn’t the first time the restaurant review company has been on the market. Back in 2008, the company placed itself up for sale with an asking price of nearly $200 million. With no takers, the company then went back to business as usual.

Founded more than 32 years ago, Zagat is now used in more than 100 cities, operating in 13 categories and now includes ratings and reviews submitted by a whopping 350,000 reviewers. Started initially as a printed guide to restaurants, Zagat over the years has built its “Zagat Ratings” into a standard rating system and has more recently gone up against major review firms like Yelp and Foursquare (News - Alert) with its mobile and website innovations.

Stay tuned to TMCnet for more on this developing story.

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Tammy Wolf is a TMCnet web editor. She covers a wide range of topics, including IP communications and information technology. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Carrie Schmelkin

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