Thursday, September 8, 2011

Google acquires Zagat, publisher of restaurant guides

The Zagat website is letting its members know that the company that publishes restaurant guides has been acquired by Google.

This may be the most important announcement in our 32 years of business: We have been acquired by another great company, Google. Nina and I will continue to be active in the business as co-Chairs; however, the merger of our resources, expertise and platforms with those of Google will give us the opportunity to greatly expand. We have spent enough time with Google senior management to know that they fully share our belief in user-generated content, and our commitment to accuracy and fairness in providing consumers with the information necessary to make smart decisions about where to eat, travel and shop.
In any case, this acquisition certainly makes a lot of sense for Google. First of all, Google loves data, and Zagat's data is consumer generated – all the better. One can imagine Zagat's consumer reviews showing up on Google Maps very soon.

Second, this eliminates an obvious point of differentiation for competitors. There have been rumors that Apple and others might want to get into this space, but just as in search, Google is the preferred and obvious choice of consumers.

"Moving forward," wrote Marissa Mayer, VP, Local, Maps and Location Services on the official Google blog, "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 skinny for publishers: stop being product-oriented and start being data-oriented. Build new products around the data rather than being fixated on ways to protect the old products.