Back in June, Eater reported that local foodie app Urbanspoon had been acquired by Zomato, a rival from India, for something like $50 million. The deal seemed to signal that a global heavyweight was getting into the space—crowd-sourced restaurant reviews—dominated by Yelp.
This morning, however, The Seattle Times reports that Zomato appears to be pulling the plug on a large part of its US operations. Some 20 workers in the Seattle office (the full staff, save one manager) were let go this week. Furthermore, some former employees of Zomato and Urbanspoon in Seattle said they'd been told that over 150 employees across the U.S. were also laid off yesterday morning.
And yet, in an enigmatic email message to Eater, CEO Deepinter Goyal seemed to suggest that Zomato is merely realigning its resources in the name of efficiency. Goyal wrote: "All well - just trying to do things in a better as well as more cost effective way."
Meantime, the Zomato.com website is advertising positions in 20 countries, from Australia and New Zealand to Qatar, Turkey, Slovakia, and South Africa.
Zomato's predecessor, Urbanspoon.com, got its start in Seattle eight years ago as a restaurant directory app launched by tech entrepreneurs Ethan Lowry and Adam Doppelt. Within a couple of years they sold the business to IAC Interactive, a growing empire of crowd-sourced sites under the aegis of social-media wizard Barry Diller, and moved into more spacious quarters on Eastlake Ave.