Restaurateurs, meet your new overlord, Marissa Mayer. The Google honcho, fashionista and foodie just announced that the search giant has acquired the Zagat Guides, giving diners everywhere hope for reviews that suck slightly less than those on Yelp.
The purchase price was undisclosed; Zagat tried to sell itself for $200 million three years ago. Mayer today wrote that the guide and its reviews would become "a cornerstone of our local offerings," by which she probably means that Zagat summaries will come up, along with other Google-hosted reviews, when you search for a restaurant by name. Google's interception of restaurant searches is controversial and maybe even illegal; the company has been slammed for lifting reviews from Yelp and accused of violating antitrust law.
Past criticism hasn't dampened Mayer's enthusiasm about the deal. In addition to writing the official blog post on the acquisition, Mayer called Zagat a "perfect 30" on her Google Plus feed and issued a haiku about the transaction to her Twitter followers. She has reason to celebrate a successful takeover. As the executive leading Google's local initiatives, she tried and failed to buy Groupon for $6 billion last year, and Google had previously failed an attempt to acquire Yelp, and prior to that squandered the chance to do anything with Dodgeball or its creator Dennis Crowley, who later parlayed the Dodgeball idea into Foursquare.
With the Zagat deal, Mayer finally got the chance to splurge on a hard core food obsession. We're talking about the woman who had triple Michelin star winner Jean-Georges Vongerichten fly out to San Francisco to cater her wedding (lobster and caramelized beef tenderloin), and who conducted a series of cupcake recipe tests, tracked them in Excel, and finally just wrote her own because none of the cookbook versions were quite perfect enough.