The Infatuation Raises $30 Million From WndrCo
Posted September 27, 2018 8:09 a.m. EDT
Over nine years, The Infatuation has grown from an upstart restaurant recommendation service to the buyer of the restaurant review company Zagat.
Now the company has found a deep-pocketed backer to continue growing.
The Infatuation plans to announce Thursday that it has raised $30 million from WndrCo, the media holding company co-founded by Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg. The company did not disclose the valuation of the financing round.
The Infatuation began life as a side project for two former music industry executives who wanted a way to recommend restaurants and bars to friends. It has since become a restaurant guide service covering over two dozen cities around the world.
Its content exists on the web, Instagram (under the branded hashtag “#EEEEEATS”) and a text-message-based service called Text Rex. The company also hosts live events, with more than 60 planned for this year and 100 next year.
The Infatuation has been performing well financially as well: It is on track to double its revenue this year from last year and is expected to post positive earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization.
WndrCo’s investment will help the company build out its technology, expand into more cities and revamp Zagat, which The Infatuation bought from Google in March for an undisclosed sum.
The company’s new investor brings experience in both the media and technology businesses. Katzenberg and a co-founder of WndrCo, Ann Daly, ran DreamWorks Animation, while the other co-founder, Sujay Jaswa, was a chief financial officer of Dropbox.
“We see our company as at our best when we’ve got great content and great tech,” Chris Stang, a co-founder of The Infatuation and its chief executive, said in a telephone interview.
To Jaswa, The Infatuation curates recommendations in a way that draws in younger consumers.
“Much of the internet is garbage,” he said in a telephone interview. “What’s missing is the editorial judgment that magazines brought 30 years ago. What The Infatuation brings to the table is exactly that.”
Still The Infatuation faces challenges, Stang conceded, including ever-rising marketing costs and the risk of expanding too far too fast. And achieving the growth the management team wants to see will take time.
“We and WndrCo know it will take another 10 years to build what we want to build, which is the best restaurant recommendation company in the world,” he said.