Google is considering selling off Zagat, the US restaurant review guide it purchased back in 2011, according to a report from Reuters today. The search giant has reportedly been in talks with multiple companies who may potentially buy the service, which is part of Google Maps and is maintained by a small team of Google employees. The rumored sale might include the Zagat brand name and its website, the report says.
Google originally bought Zagat nearly a decade ago for $151 million, a move overseen by Marissa Mayer when she was still a Google executive and prior to her role as Yahoo CEO. Google integrated Zagat restaurant listings as part of its Maps product, while Google employees were in charge of running the online presence at Zagat.com.
Zagat was a private company until its acquisition, so its financials were not disclosed at the time of sale. But it struggled to find a buyer back in 2008 at a price of $200 million. One of the factors that led to its eventual sale was the rise of Yelp, which became a formidable challenger in the online restaurant reviews and discovery market starting in 2004.
On Yelp, reviewers take pride in breaking down everything they like and don’t like about a restaurant in great detail. In old Zagat blurbs, each review is filled with short, uninspired sound bites, and the service’s ratings system never quite reached mainstream recognition in the way Yelp’s five-star system has in the internet era.
The rivalry is well-documented. A month after Google acquired Zagat in 2011, it did the brand a favor: mobile searches for Yelp were redirected to Zagat as an ad result that showed up above Yelp’s own site. Yet Google has often failed to leverage the ubiquity of Google Maps to push Zagat ahead of the competition, letting the service languish on the sidelines while Yelp became a powerhouse. There has been no word on what price Zagat could go for. A Google spokesperson declined to comment.