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Google buys Zagat, a pioneer in restaurant ratings

September 8, 2011 | 10:30 am

Zagat rates Google, its new owner

Google Inc. has purchased Zagat, a publisher of widely used ratings of restaurants and other businesses.

"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, a Google vice president responsible for the tech giant's efforts in local, maps and location services, in a blog post.

"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."

The move will help Google better rival competitors like Yelp, Yahoo and Bing in local search (finding a restaurant, store or other type of business nearby or when visiting another city).

Zagat has been in the local rankings biz for 32 years, long before Google, Yahoo or Yelp, and "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," Mayer said. "Their iconic pocket-sized guides with paragraphs summarizing and 'snippeting' sentiment were 'mobile' before 'mobile' involved electronics."

Founded by husband and wife Tim and Nina Zagat, the company has grown to become a trusted brand with "Zagat rated" stickers popping up on many restaurant windows and paperback Zagat Guides regularly becoming hot sellers in many major cities.

"After spending time with Google senior management discussing our mutual goals, we know they share our belief in user-generated content and our commitment to accuracy and fairness in providing users with the information needed to make smart decisions about where to eat, shop and travel," Tim and Nina Zagat said in a statement.

"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."

The Zagats said would become Google employees while remaining co-chairs of the Zagat business.

The companies didn't disclose a deal price. In 2008, Zagat's founders unsuccessfully sought to sell company for $200 million. In 2009, Google tried but failed to buy Yelp.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

Twitter.com/nateog

Image: A screen shot of Zagat.com's home page, showing an ostensible review of Google, after the announcement of Google's purchase of Zagat. Credit: Zagat.com

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