Zagat Survey announced today that owners Tim and Nina Zagat are ready to cash out. Or, rather, that the company is interested in "strategic opportunities to grow its business," with such opportunities including an outright sale of the thing. While Zagat has struggled to become vital online, there's absolutely no denying the power of the book in print. Our two cents is that if Barry Diller hasn't acquired the company by the end of the day—and created an umbrella management team to oversee it, along with Citysearch, Menupages and OpenTable (the latter two he has limited interests in)—then someone is asleep at the wheel at Diller's Interactive Corp. The Times weighs in today as well:
The sale is likely to attract broad interest and the company could become a trophy asset for a media mogul seeking a bit of extra gloss and power. The business could as naturally end up in the hands of Barry Diller’s IAC/InterActiveCorp, which owns Citysearch, as it could in Bruce Wasserstein’s company, publisher of New York Magazine, or even in Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation.· Zagat To Explore Strategic Growth Opportunities [Zagat Survey; .pdf]
It is unclear how large a price Zagat will attract. While the company is a worldwide brand, its actual business is much smaller. People briefed on the company’s finances suggest the company could be valued at more than $200 million, which would still be a drop in the bucket for an Internet company or a wealthy executive.
In 2000, Zagat was valued at more than $100 million...
· Zagat Family Is Putting Guide Empire on Market [NYT]