Yelp picks up restaurant waitlist app Nowait for $40 million

Yelp has acquired restaurant reservation app Nowait for $40 million, in an all-cash deal, the companies announced this morning. The move will bring Nowait’s waitlist system and seating tool to Yelp, where it’s been integrated in the Yelp app, to complement the existing Yelp reservations product and its mobile food-ordering system, Yelp Eat24.

Founded in 2010 by Ware Sykes, previously of TheLadders, Pittsburgh-based Nowait had grown its network of restaurants to over 4,000 across the U.S. and Canada, and had attracted a number of big chains to its platform, including Chili’s and First Watch. The company charged its restaurants a monthly fee for participation on its platform.

Unlike OpenTable or Resy, Nowait’s angle into this space was that it was going after casual dining restaurants that don’t typically take advance reservations, but instead use a waitlisting system. Its app allowed customers to add their name to that list ahead of their arrival, in order to speed up the time it takes to be sat.

Through its mobile application, guests could also check the current wait times at area restaurants, and they could receive texts when their table is ready. If they were running late, they could reply to the text to let the restaurant know.

The acquisition news is not entirely surprising, given that Yelp made a strategic investment in NoWait last year, which also included partnership plans to integrate NoWait into the Yelp app. As often is the case in deals like this, Yelp found that it would make more sense to just bring Nowait’s team and tech in-house.

Yelp says that the waitlist system had already been integrated into Yelp, allowing restaurants to share their real-time availability with Yelp users. The integration also included the ability to join the waitlist with a tap.

“Nowait has quickly become an important feature for Yelp users and a valuable addition to our overall restaurant offerings. With this acquisition, we’ll make even bigger strides in the restaurant industry by allowing Yelp users to more quickly move from search and discovery to transacting at a local business,” said  Yelp co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, in a statement.

Nowait had raised over $22 million in outside funding, according to Crunchbase, including the $8 million from Yelp announced last year.


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