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Brier Dudley offers a critical look at technology and business issues affecting the Northwest.

July 31, 2013 at 2:18 PM

Urbanspoon sells Rez biz to OpenTable

Seattle-based Urbanspoon is selling its 3-year-old restaurant reservation service to its prime competitor, San Francisco-based OpenTable.

landing_rezbook_screenshot

The companies characterized the move as a partnership under which the 2,000 or so restaurants using Urbanspoon’s Rezbook for online reservations will be shifted to OpenTable, which has more than 28,000 restaurants and a global footprint.

OpenTable’s reservation system will be extended to additional restaurants via the Urbanspoon website and apps.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

In a blog post announcing the deal, Urbanspoon said the deal will increase its coverage and enable it to sharpen its focus.

“By partnering for best-in-class reservations functionality, the team is now empowered to focus on our core mission: building a uniquely fantastic consumer experience,” it said.

Restaurants using Rezbook will be able to continue under their current contracts with no price changes. OpenTable will support those contracts but won’t sign additional restaurants up for Rezbook.

Urbanspoon was founded in 2006 and took off after Apple began promoting its restaurant-finding app in its commercials, giving it a pole position in the rise of mobile apps and services catering to wired dining enthusiasts. Media giant IAC bought the startup in 2009 and later that year it developed the Rez reservation system to add more services and challenge OpenTable’s grip on online reservations. After a pilot program in Seattle, the iPad-based Rezbook business launched in May 2010.

“I think it’s a pretty mixed blessing,” said Urbanspoon co-founder Ethan Lowry, who left the company after Rezbook launched. “On one hand it’s great that they’ll have full access to all of the OpenTable reservations on Urbanspoon and just further the ability to let you use Urbanspoon.”

Rezbook was partly intended to give Urbanspoon “really deep integration with the restaurants,” Lowry said.

“To the extent the OpenTable partnership lets them continue to do that … that will be great,” he said.

 

 

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