The Zagat Survey was established by Tim and Nina Zagat in 1979 as a way to collect and correlate the ratings of restaurants by diners. For their first guide, covering New York City, the Zagats surveyed their friends. As of 2005, the Zagat Survey included 70 cities, with reviews based on the input of 250,000 individuals reporting over the years. In addition to restaurants, Zagat guides rate hotels, nightlife, shopping, zoos, music, movies, theaters, golf courses, and airlines. The guides are sold in book form, and formerly as a paid subscription on its web site.
As of May 2012, as part of its acquisition by Google in September 2011, Zagat reviews and ratings became tightly integrated into Google's services, and the Zagat.com site became free to use.
The ratings are on a 30-point scale, made up of ratings for defined areas including food, decor, service, and cost (30 is the highest rating on the scale and 1 is the lowest). In addition to numeric scores, the survey also includes a short descriptive paragraph that incorporates selected quotations (typically a few words) from several reviewers' comments about each restaurant or service, as well as typical pricing and other information.
Private equity firm General Atlantic bought one-third of parent company Zagat, LLC, for $31 million in February 2000 and installed non-Zagat family member Amy B. McIntosh as CEO.
In 2008, the company was on the block for $200 million. After there were no takers, the company announced in June that it was no longer for sale and that it would seek an organic growth strategy.
On September 8, 2011, the company was acquired by Google for a reported $151 million. Google planned to use the acquisition to provide more content and reviews for its locally oriented services. Google had initially planned to acquire competing site Yelp instead. On May 30, 2012, Zagat was officially integrated into Google's services, with its reviews now appearing on Google Maps and Google+ Local pages for relevant restaurants. Additionally, the Zagat.com service became free to use, and once required a Google+ account to register though that is no longer the case.
In December, 2012, Google informed most of the former Zagat employees, who had been hired as temporary contractors, that their contracts would expire as of June 30, 2013.
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