The Infatuation raises $30M from Jeffrey Katzenberg’s WndrCo to bring Zagat into the digital age – TechCrunch
WndrCo, the consumer tech investment and holding company founded by longtime Hollywood executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, has invested $30 million in The Infatuation, a restaurant discovery platform.
The Infatuation made waves earlier this year when it purchased Zagat from Google, which had paid $151 million for the 40-year-old company in 2011. Despite efforts to makeover the Zagat app, the search giant ultimately decided to unload the perennial restaurant review and recommendation service and focus on expanding its database of restaurant recommendations organically.
New York-based The Infatuation was founded by music industry vets Chris Stang and Andrew Steinthal in 2009. It has previously raised $3.5 million for its mobile app, events, newsletter and personalized SMS-based recommendation tool.
Stang told TechCrunch this morning that they plan to use a good chunk of the funds to develop the new Zagat platform, which will be kept separate from The Infatuation.
“The first thing we want to do before we build anything is spend a lot of time researching how people have used Zagat in the past, how they want to use it in the future, what a community-driven platform could look like and how to apply community reviews and ratings to the brand,” said Stang, The Infatuation’s chief executive officer. “Zagat’s roots are in user-generated content. … What we are doing now is thinking through what that looks like with new tech applied to it. What it looks like in the digital age. How [we can] take our domain expertise and that legendary brand and make something new with it.”
The Infatuation will also expand to new cities beginning this fall with launches in Boston and Philadelphia. It’s already active in a dozen or so U.S. cities including Los Angeles, Seattle and San Francisco. The startup’s first and only international location is London.
Katzenberg, who began his Hollywood career at Paramount Pictures, began raising up to $2 billion for WndrCo about a year ago. Since then, he’s unveiled WndrCo’s new mobile video startup NewTV, which has raised $1 billion and hired Meg Whitman, the former president and CEO of Hewlett Packard, as CEO.
On top of that, WndrCo has invested in Mixcloud, Axios, Node, Flowspace, Whistle Sports, TYT Network and others.
Given The Infatuation founders’ experience in the entertainment industry, a partnership with Katzenberg was natural.
“We really felt like between content and technology they had … expertise on both sides,” Stang said. “The Infatuation is at its best when great content intersects with great technology, to find a fund that was perfectly suited to that was exciting.”