Google to acquire Frommers

August 13, 2012

Google is expanding its reach in the travel and review spaces with the announcement Monday that it has snapped up the Frommers brand.

John Wiley & Sons confirmed the news in a Monday news release, saying that it sold the noted brand after determining it did not fit with its long-term publishing plans.

Proceeds from the sale, Wiley said, will go toward other “growth opportunities” in its professional, scientific, technical, medical, scholarly and global education businesses.

When asked for comment, a Google spokesman said the new acquisition will be folded into the company’s Zagat group. The news was first reported in the Wall Street Journal.

“The Frommer’s team and the quality and scope of their content will be a great addition to the Zagat team. We can’t wait to start working with them on our goal to provide a review for every relevant place in the world,” a Google spokesman said in a statement.

The Zagat acquisition was negotiated in September under the guidance of former Googler and current Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer.

The tech giant has been making a big push in filling out its search content for local businesses, as well as adding search features that will make it easier for travelers to find information about their travel plans as well as attractions off-the-beaten-path.

Even recent changes to Google’s search experience, such as offering an opt-in trial to include Gmail results in search, can be used to facilitate local discovery — the company specifically used travel plans as an example in its video discussing the new addition.

Google faced some resistance from the travel industry during its acquisition of the travel search firm ITA — a deal that was approved in April.

In the WSJ report, experts said it was unlikely that Google’s acquisition would raise any red flags in the antitrust world.

“The travel book business is small potatoes even for the Justice Department,” Bill Newlin, publisher of Avalon Travel, told the newspaper.

On news of the acquisition, shares of Yelp and TripAdvisor slumped. As of 2:30 p.m. Yelp was down nearly seven percent to $24 per share while TripAdvisor saw a dip of around 5 percent for a share price of $33.36. Expedia, Orbitz and Priceline also saw some declines.

Google shares were over 2.5 percent up, for a share price of $658.83.

Related stories:

Google to make deep cuts at Motorola

With Google-ITA merger, Justice Department continues to expand monitoring of firms

FTC: $22.5 million penalty sends message to Google

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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