Hungry for Photos: OpenTable Buying Foodspotting for $10 Million

Photograph by Sauce Communications via Bloomberg

A chicken soup dish with accoutrements is served at Naamyaa Cafe in London

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but photos of restaurant food are apparently worth $10 million.

OpenTable, the online restaurant reservation company, is announcing today it’s paying that amount to buy Foodspotting, a smartphone application that lets people share and rate photos of food.

Images from Foodspotting users will appear on the OpenTable site and mobile applications, helping people judge a restaurant based on how appetizing the dishes look.

While OpenTable has pictures for some establishments already, “we don’t have nearly as many as I think will be helpful for diners to pick the perfect restaurant,” Chief Executive Officer Matt Roberts said in an interview. With Foodspotting, “there’s an opportunity for us to present some dishes you might like at the restaurant you’re about to go to,” he said.

San Francisco-based Foodspotting, which started in 2009 and raised $3.75 million in venture capital and private financing, has capitalized on diners’ preoccupation with documenting what they eat. It will continue operating as a separate website and application, although the features will eventually be available on OpenTable, the company said.

Foodspotting has about 3 million photos, or one for every $3.33 OpenTable plans to spend on the startup. Roberts thinks the acquisition will enhance his company’s content on smartphones and help people make better decisions through social recommendations.

He said he will give updates on some other features that are on the way, including tools that let restaurants recognize users by their photo and dining history, on a Feb. 7 conference call with investors.

“We really want to be broader than our foundation, which is reservations,” Roberts said.


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