Burrp Replies to Zomato Accusation – [See If You Are Convinced]

Yesterday, Zomato had accused Burrp of copying data from their site with some valid proof through unique data injection. Burrp was listing Zomato’s lead capturing number for a given a restaurant. Clearly a strong case, something very similar to what happened in the JustDial vs. Askme case.

Burrp has replied saying that the request to add the number came in via email.

The request to add the business in question came via an email and we added it verbatim in good faith.

There are two points to this. Firstly, it means there is no data validation for listings on Burrp. If you say you missed this particular one, then there is no system in place.

Frankly, we were a little disappointed on seeing their post. An issue with one odd listing could have easily been resolved over email. We make it a point to verify every listing added on burrp!, but an occasional one does slip by. Last such instance was quickly acted upon by our team and we had honored the feedback given to us by Zomato.

Secondly, this is not the only restaurant with that number. While the Burrp team has been quick in removing those numbers, a Google search will tell that there were atleast 2 more restaurants with the same number.

Here’s a snapshot of one of the restaurants from their listings page [Check “The Golconda Bowl” at the bottom]. They probably forgot to refresh the cache.

Here’s another one on Google for a restaurant called Manjasa.

Now if we go by Burrp’s theory, all these were also added in “good faith” without even a basic check of 3 restaurants having the same number.

Burrp has a second point, which although is an open question, but may be only their own team would have an answer to it.

If we would’ve taken it from their website, why would we leave out the extension number? This makes no sense.

In my opinion, may be their data structure doesn’t allow having extension numbers. But this is still debatable.

Their are other points that Burrp makes saying that they are bigger and are there from much earlier days. While the facts are right, I believe these are to deviate from the main point. None of this is a reason to not fall into such activities.

Secondly – consider the numbers – burrp! has over 150,000 businesses – way many more than Zomato who claim to have 18,000 businesses. We have been at it since 2006 way before Zomato/Foodiebay was even born and the sun was just as hot. Not only the count of listings are higher – but the depth of information and data points in a listing are a lot higher.

Firstly, Burrp is comparing larger number of cities, and categories beyond restaurants, which I believe is not very intelligent. Secondly, from my personal experience Zomato has more data points. It has everything that Burrp has plus the menu. Though, not so many reviews.

Burrp in the latter part of the reply has gone offensive and attacked Zomato of copying their features.

It’s they who have been on a copying spree. When FoodieBay started out they only had menus. Over the months they’ve added every feature available on burrp! – user & expert reviews, photos, maps, user lists, local events, business owner responses.

Now to go by Burrp’s theory, Zomato should have stuck to having menus only. And also, are these Burrp’s features? Aren’t these common for all local info sites. Yes, if Burrp says they pioneered this in India, I would give them points. They did prove that having user reviews and other rich info does make a successful business case and a useful sticky portal. Still, that is no excuse to the accusation being made.

Burrp has accused Zomato of poaching in greed of trade secrets but even they are not sure about this.

They’ve hired a few of our employees from sales and content, presumably, to get a peek into how burrp! functions internally.

There is one other serious accusation that Burrp has made against Zomato’s data. This is something for Zomato’s team to answer.

They’re putting fake ratings on un-reviewed business and submitting it to Google in violation of Google’s policy. These listings with fake ratings show up on Google alongside listings with genuine user ratings from sites like TripAdvisor, burrp!, etc., thereby confusing users.

And this what Zomato’s CEO tweeted in reply to a fellow blogger:

their ideas must be rocket science! 🙂 they have a high attrition rate. we hire some of their best people. fake ratings.. bs!

Burrp end’s the post saying:

We’re willing to take a bet on how soon they will also copy other features available on burrp! like – Send 2 Phone, Food award certificates, Movie listings, Video reviews, TV Guide,  and even the New Year’s party guide.

Right, those features are available on Burrp but none of them is available only with Burrp. Food award certificate is common for any agency that wants to create authority in this space – Times Food Guide, HT City Guide have already been doing this. Other features are common for local info sites.

This is what Zomato’s CEO had to say:

copying features and data are two *different* things sire. u saying bing can’t create a search engine because google has one? 🙂

Here’s quoting Anupam Saxena of Medianama on twitter. He captures my own stand on Burrp’s offensive reply perfectly.

Accusing someone of something without proof, just to counter, only makes you appear defensive & your move, reactive..

Burrp also says something about growth and ideas:

The attempt today was a stunt to generate sympathy by using a cheap tactic by a competitor probably running out of ideas to grow.

The ‘idea’ bit reminds me of a unique feature that Zomato has been testing. The feature that started the whole controversy. Zomato asks the user’s to dial Zomato’s number and then an ext. number to reach the restaurant. This is a great way of tracking lead generation volumes. Google and Asklaila have both tried click-to-connect feature which they ultimately phased out. It will be good to see how the feature works out for Zomato and if the cost of a telephonic call is worth. Though, it’s worth noting that Google’s click-to-connect feature costs double than this model by Zomato. Two way call patching vs. one way forwarding.

And if traffic is to tell anything about growth then we should look at some graphs below. Yes, I know Alexa is not the best thing for this.

Zomato vs. Burrp Alexa Traffic

If you notice last 1 month’s graph below, Zomato is kissing Burrp’s traffic. Also worth noting is that 21.98% of Burrp’s traffic comes from tv.burrp.com. So in the game that they are competing, Zomato has beaten Burrp. Also, Zomato’s India ranking is ahead of Burrp.

I think now it’s on Burrp to answer questions on running out of ideas for growth. And before you accuse me, let me add, Zomato is spending on Google ads, that Burrp is not, so this growth is inorganic to an extent.

I have great respect for what Burrp was but I think for this one time they have a weaker case. Again, these are my opinion and interpretation of the data available. Do let us know what you think?

In the meanhile, you might want to explore how the same number got on Asklaila. There are other sites as well, with or without the ext. number but Asklaila intrigues me most.

Note: I know there is going to be a lot of hue and cry of me favoring a single party and that NextBigWhat.com is a reporting media and should take neutral stand but I think I have made a point by point analysis of the reply from the data available. Also, Pluggd.in is an opinionated blog not run by journalists but people of the industry, who don’t act like mouth pieces. And before there is any accusation of payola due to co-incidence, let me disclose we are publishing an interview of Zomato founder on Monday that was scheduled before this controversy broke out and it was triggered by the fact that they are the first [Asklaila also has an API] Indian local search company to release an API. The interview will now be updated to have questions regarding this case as well.

[Naman is a startup enthusiast and has worked with couple of Indian startups as Product Manager. He is the founder of FindYogi]

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