Sources within Frommer’s confirmed the deal after the Wall Street Journal got whiff of the acquisition earlier today.
Terms have not been disclosed, but the purchase ends a six-month search for a buyer for the company after its owner, Wiley, put the company up for sale.
Frommer’s currently has around 70 employees around the world, but some are unclear as to whether they will be transferred and become Google staff. They are expecting to learn their fate later this week.
It is also unknown as yet as to whether Frommer’s will continue as a standalone brand, as well as if Google will effectively become a printed guidebook publisher – a massive leap from its online-only world.
The latest acquisition once again demonstrates that Google’s cross-hairs on the travel industry are not exclusively around its fledgling flight and hotel search products.
Content to bring consumers into the world of Google (and its other “services”) is clearly another cornerstone of the search giant’s desire to provide a more fully rounded service to travellers.
Frommer’s, of course, isn’t just a consumer-facing business – it’s Frommer’s Unlimited division supplies travel content, including guides, photos and event listings, to hundreds of brands (such as KLM, Carnival, Best Western and the New York Times).
Fellow member of the FairSearch anti-Google lobbying group, Microsoft, also uses Frommer’s content for the MSN Travel site.
Although the value of the deal is unclear, it is very unlikely to be anywhere close to the $700 million it splashed out on ITA Software in the summer of 2010.
Some at the time questioned why Google would buy one of the dozens of young travel content startups, but Ruba was an interesting business because it had the visual search interface (pre-Pinterest bubble) behind the scenes and was known to be developing some metasearch technology of its own.
Wiley put Frommer’s up for sale in March this year, claiming the business was not part of its long-term strategy.
The company says the proceeds of the sale will be “redeployed” to its core professional businesses covering science, technical and medical publications.