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While mobile is presenting some tough monetization challenges for companies like Facebook, it's increasingly looking like a boon to others.
When it comes to finding the perfect restaurant, hotel or entertainment venue, chances are you turn to one or more user reviews sites. After all, if you're going to trust anything, why not trust testimonials from a business' past customers?
User reviews, of course, aren't perfect, and sorting through them can require a lot of effort. Hence the effort many companies are making to build recommendation engines that use computing power to tell you where you should eat your next meal or go to have a good time.
When Google announced that it was acquiring Zagat, it looked problematic. After all, Zagat was a publisher struggling to stay relevant in the digital age and Google was the world's biggest search engine. The potential conflicts the deal could create were huge.
One of the companies likely to have been most concerned with the acquisition was Yelp. Along with other popular user-generated reviews sites, it has arguably played a key role in Zagat's woes. With Google behind it, would the Mountain View-based company push Zagat content at the expense of a company like Yelp, which it once reportedly looked to buy?
Last September, Google acquired Zagat, a company that built a world-famous brand around printed restaurant guides.
Thanks to the internet and the rise of user-generated reviews sites like Yelp, Zagat like so many other print publishers had seen a stunning reversal of fortunes before Google swooped in to buy it.
Thanks to the internet, it's never been easier for consumers to share their thoughts and opinions about products and services. That has spurred the creation of an entire online reviews ecoystem.
Popular reviews sites like Yelp, which is planning to go public, can literally make or break a business. Earn favorable reviews and a steady stream of eager new customers could be coming through the door. Earn poor reviews and attracting customers can become a difficult task, although there's some evidence that negative customer reviews aren't as bad as thought.
User-generated reviews giant Yelp has joined the stock market goldrush by filing an initial public offering (IPO) of up to $100m in shares.
Since rejecting a reported $500m acquisition offer from Google in 2010, the company has apparently been preparing for this move, which could value the company at over $2b.
Little more than a decade ago, Microsoft was public enemy number one. After the United States Justice Department filed suit, a judge ruled that the world's largest software maker was a monopoly and must be broken up.
That ruling was overturned, and in 2001, the company settled with the Department of Justice.
Today, Microsoft is still one of the world's largest software makers, and Internet Explorer, the product that was the focus of so much of the government's action against the company, is still the world's most widely-used internet browser.
The company, however, has been humbled in markets like search and mobile, which were nascent in 2001. The implication: try as hard as they might, big technology companies can't use their size to guarantee success.
For many merchants owners, daily deals services are very attractive. Their promise: lots of customers coming through the doors in a short period of time. And no up-front fees to boot.
The appeal of the daily deal has driven the growth of some of the fastest growing companies ever.
Yesterday, Google announced that it is acquiring Zagat, a company whose name has become synonymous with printed restaurant guides. By size, the acquisition is likely nowhere near Google's largest.
As observed by TechCrunch, it appears that the acquisition price was under $66m.
But Google's Zagat acquisition has created quite a lot of buzz, and for good reason: this could arguably be Google's most problematic and challenging acquisition ever.
When you want to know whether the restaurant down the street is worth eating at, there's a decent chance you'll turn to online services like Yelp to see what other diners in your area have to say about it.
This is despite the fact that local government agencies, such as those that enforce health rules, probably have data that's more interesting to you than John Doe's angry rant about a rude waiter.
As a big fan of location-based applications (I'm currently 'checking in' at various locations on five different apps...!) I have of course been watching the launch and subsequent spread of Facebook Places with great interest.
Now that the first batch of dust has had a chance to settle, I wanted to look in a bit more detail at some of the hurdles 'Places' may face in the coming months, if past experience is to be believed.
If there's a sexy space on the consumer internet right now, group buying is it. Although there are arguments about whether or not market leader Groupon's first national deal with Gap was really as successful as it appears on the surface, one thing is for sure: companies large and small smell big money in group buying deals.
One of those companies is Yelp, and although it has plenty of competition, Yelp may be one of the few upstarts with the potential to put a dent, even if slight, in Groupon's rise.