Zagat survey is a startup which started a long time back in 1979 by founders Tim and Nina Zagat as a way to have a standard scale of reviews for restaurants. Today it has expanded to other entities in the arena of eat, drink and play.
Zagat was bought last year by Google Inc for around $151 million. The reason I believe Google did it was to make its local portfolio stronger with a brand which people could relate to and trust while making their consumption decisions. With over 350,000 dedicated reviewers, Zagat also brings in a credible data set which Google can leverage in its products like Google places and Google+. It works to the advantage of Zagat as now being under the Google umbrella it is able to reach more customers via Google platform thus making the data set richer and accessible. It does have a risk in case Google overtime dilutes the brand with its own offerings.
Local search and relevance is the next battle field in the world of information folks search for on the internet. This is especially relevant in the mobile search space which consumers primarily use with a local intent and capturing those eyeballs for advertisement revenue would add significantly to Google’s bottom line. I would expect that Google will use this rich information on all its relevant platforms (Google places, Google+, Mobile search) to keep its users satisfied within its walled garden and not reach out to its competitors like Facebook and Yelp. Will they succeed? Time will tell