September 04, 2017

OpenTable began a revolution. Now it’s a power under siege.


Almost 20 years ago, a new company came on the scene promising to revolutionize the tedious and often frustrating chore of securing a restaurant reservation. Two decades on, though, the company faces a number of troubles that threaten that hold.

Priceline, which now owns it, has written down the company’s value and said it is reducing investments in the system. A new crop of competitors is challenging OpenTable as never before, picking off the high-profile restaurants that are critical to attracting consumers, by offering better deals and newer technology.

And for all the diners they do seat, neither OpenTable nor its competitors have yet loosened the telephone’s grip on reservations, roughly two-thirds of which are still made by phone, according to Yelp, which once partnered with OpenTable and is now a rival.

This year, Table8, a reservation system started in 2013, folded, unable to raise additional funds to keep going. So far, none of the new services appear to be profitable.

“Everyone is fighting to win over the handful of top restaurants in each market — and then what?” said Jeff Jordan, a former chief executive of OpenTable who is now a venture capitalist. “It’s hard to see the endgame.”

Get the full story at The New York Times