Media Fortune Fame & Folly

Bank buys Zagat

America’s largest bank JPMorgan Chase is acquiring The Infatuation, owner of the restaurant review guide Zagat, as it looks to win a greater share of the payments consumers make while eating out out. 

The price has not been disclosed and nor has anything about the revenue or profitability of the business which had been negotiating fundraising options in recent months.

The Infatuation, which was launched in 2009 by Chris Stang and Andrew Steinthal, has grown from a “where to eat in New York” blog into a reviews and events group. It acquired Zagat in 2018 for what has been described as a fraction of the $151m Google had paid Tim & Nina Zagat for the 42-year-old restaurant guides seven years earlier.

In addition to its regional presence in 50 cities in the US and internationally, The Infatuation also connects with consumers via their mobile app, live dining events and experiences, a membership program offering perks and discounts, and through its marquee bi-coastal food festival, EEEEEATSCON.

JPMorgan is expected to integrate the media content generated by The Infatuation’s multiple platforms into its existing consumer products, which already link up with restaurants and other venues. It last year launched a “dining hub” with access to more than 4,000 restaurants with reservations platform Tock. The bank’s Sapphire Reserve and Preferred credit card holders also receive access to deals with restaurants and bars. 

JPMorgan’s deal is comparable to American Express’s decision in 2019 to acquire Resy, the digital restaurant booking platform. Amex, which is known for its high-end credit cards with exclusive perks, has recently launched an exclusive dining programme for cardholders through Resy. 

The deals underline the way that many more businesses will respond to the increasing digitalisation by providing information and e-commerce opportunities. It seems logical to expect all banks and payment organisations to want to host at least some of the e-commerce undertaken by their customers as part of improving customer service – and diversifying revenue sources.

The Infatuation