Google originally purchased restaurant review company Zagat for approximately $151 million dollars in 2011 in hopes of pitting the once-premier brand against upstart rivals such as Yelp. Unfortunately, they never really gave the brand the attention that it needed to prevail and now they are cutting their losses by selling the brand to The Infatuation, a relatively new challenger in the review space.
Google’s original plan for Zagat seemed sound. At the time, Zagat was getting pummeled by rival Yelp. Their original online model forced users to pay to see the reviews as opposed to the completely open Yelp methodology. This model also killed Zagat’s search engine optimization (SEO) so when Google took it over, they changed the model to be open and integrated it with their search results. Sound like a slam dunk, right?
Unfortunately, the champion of the original Google/Zagat deal was Melissa Mayer who left Google to head up rival Yahoo not long after the deal was completed. This left the brand adrift within the tech giant’s portfolio of projects and it withered.
But Infatuation has big plans to restore the brand to its former glory.
“We’re thrilled by this opportunity to acquire such a pioneering and trusted restaurant guide as Zagat,” said Chris Stang, The Infatuation’s Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “Iconic brands don’t become available very often, and Zagat is about as iconic as it gets. It is the perfect complement to what we have been building at The Infatuation.”
For now, both Infatuation and Zagat will continue to run as separate entities, but the company plans to look for integration options as both sites develop and grow.