One Motorola Mobility is worth 100 Zagats. That's the latest rate on the Google currency exchange, from a company that acquires historic brands with as much gusto as Jay Leno scoops up vintage rides at an antique car show.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Mountain View, Calif.-based Google paid $125 million for the legendary restaurant review company, or about 1 percent the proposed purchase price for Motorola, which Google came to terms with last month.
Zagat put itself on the block three years ago. Back then its estimated value was $200 million, but apparently there were no buyers at that price. Google eventually stepped in and offered a number closer to what Zagat claimed it was worth back in 2000.
Marissa Mayer, Google's VP for local, announced the deal on the company's blog and on Google+ on Thursday. Mayer said Zagat reviews would be integrated with Google search and Maps, and she praised Zagat's "innovative... consumer-based" approach:
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. Their iconic pocket-sized guides with paragraphs summarizing and "snippeting" sentiment were "mobile" before "mobile" involved electronics.
If Google's track record with acquisitions is any indication, there could be an uncertain road ahead for Zagat. Social-search tool Aardvark, which Google bought for $50 million, was recently killed off; Jambool social payments and Slide social gaming, which cost more than Zagat, met similar fates. Then again, the Android platform cost Google only $50 million, and I hear it's doing well.