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Press Release

Feed the beast

August 23, 1999
Redherring.com, August 23, 1999

Your intrepid Catch of the Day reporter lives to serve. Mostly. He also lives to find out about new services that can make his own life easier.

That's why I jumped at the chance to meet with Chuck Templeton, CEO of OpenTable.com, which is launching a service near and dear to my heart: it puts restaurant reservations on the Web. If you've ever tried to get a Thursday 8 p.m. table at a hot joint here in San Francisco, then you know where I'm coming from.

There is a large physical component to the OpenTable business. It supplies restaurants with touch-screen PCs to replace paper reservation pads, and these PCs are sold one by one, which requires a serious salesforce (San Francisco has thousands of restaurants; OpenTable so far has fewer than 40 signed up). On the other hand, this physical infrastructure represents a barrier to entry that many "stuffless" Net companies don't enjoy.

OpenTable makes money from selling its system to restaurants, charging them monthly and per-reservation fees. The service is free to the hungry public. OpenTable is currently raising its Series C round and, if it's smart, is also working on deals with travel sites, city guides, and entertainment listing services.

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