NEW YORK ( Real Money) -- The natural buyer for every major service vertical has left the building, and it is time for others, who want to have relevance on the web, to step up.
When you sit down with anyone of import in the restaurant, hospitality, travel, entertainment and real estate businesses, it doesn't take long before they get around to the idea that Google (GOOGL) is either going to develop a competing service to the ones they use, or that Google is going to buy the one that they are stuck with or have to use it because it owns the space.
But right now, because the scrutiny is on Google, whoever else is out there -- Microsoft (MSFT) or Yahoo! (YHOO) or Priceline (PCLN) or even Gannett (GCI) being the most obvious -- has a chance to make a bold move that checkmates Google before it even starts to acquire or spend a lot of money to develop a competing service -- although of those four, only first three have the stock and cash to be able to make it worthwhile.
Think about it like this. Is there any doubt that the restaurant and hotel ratings businesses are going to be terrific businesses as the web becomes more persuasive? How about home rentals? How about real estate buying?