Michelin has acquired London-based Bookatable, Europe’s leading online table-reservation service, working with 15,000 restaurants & managing more than 34 million covers worth of reservations. Bookatable had raised upwards of $70M from Balderton Capital (via Johan Brenner, currently GP at Swedish fund Creandum) & Wellington Partners (via Daniel Waterhouse, who is now a Partner at Balderton Capital). Bookatable was seeing increased competition in Europe from TheFork (LaFourchette, acquired by TripAdvisor in May 2014) among others; however, the relationship between Michelin & Bookatable started as early as May 2013, when the two began their partnership, allowing booking of Michelin-rated restaurants via Bookatable.
The move represents both a big step into digital for Michelin, as well as a change in the M&A mindset in France, where established companies have struggled culturally to make strategy-shifting acquisitions. With bookatable among its digital services, Michelin will be able to capitalize on its historic brand-relationship with Michelin star restaurants, perhaps turning Bookatable/Michelin into the LinkedIn of restaurants. Michelin-competitor Zagot was acquired by Google for $151 Million back in 2011 – mostly in an effort to push Yelp out of top restaurant search results on Google – however, that acquisition is seen more as the death of Zagot than any threat to Michelin and its guides.
I’m excited to see Industrial companies in France acquiring international, digital services. This has been such an issue in France that BPIFrance (The “SVB” of France) released a whitepaper for French companies last August about the merits of acquisitions.