Yelp, Inc.

Yelp, Inc.

company_name = Yelp, Inc.
company_type = Private
company_slogan = Real People. Real Reviews.
foundation = October 2004
location = San Francisco, CA
key_people = Jeremy Stoppelman, Co-founder/CEO, Russel Simmons, Co-founder/CTO, and Geoff Donaker COO
industry = Business ratings and reviews
products =
num_employees = 150+cite web|url=|title=Restaurants Learn to Yelp|publisher=San Francisco Business Times|date=2008-06-27|accessdate=2008-07-01]
homepage = []

Yelp, Inc. is a Web 2.0 company that operates a social networking, user review, and local search web site of the same name, combining features from traditional Internet yellow pages sites such as, local city guide sites such as Citysearch and Metromix, and community-oriented social media sites like Facebook and MySpace. Over 10.6 million people access the Yelp web site each month, putting it in the top 100 of U.S. Internet web sites. [cite web|url=| (rank 88) - Web Site Audience Profiles from Quantcast|publisher=Quantcast|date=2008-07|accessdate=2008-08-19]


After an aborted start as an email recommendation service, Yelp launched its namesake web site into the San Francisco market in October 2004 [cite web|url=|title=Yelp! A viral recommendation system you can't resist?|last=Orlowski|first=Andrew|publisher= Register|date=2004-10-13|accessdate=2008-08-19] under the direction of founders Jeremy Stoppelman and Russel Simmons, both of whom were early software engineering employees at PayPal.cite web|url=|title='Yelpers' review local businesses|publisher=USA Today|date=2007-06-12|accessdate=2008-08-19] The company received $6 million in early funding from venture capital firms Mission Street, led by another former Paypal-er Max Levchin, and Bessemer Venture Partners. Additional investments were made in the amounts of $10 million by Benchmark Capital in 2006 [cite web|url=|title=City guide Yelp raises $10M in second round|publisher=San Francisco Business Times|date=2006-10-05|accessdate=2008-08-19] and $15 million by DAG Ventures in 2008.cite web|url=|title=Yelp yanks another $15 million|publisher=CNET|date=2008-02-27|accessdate=2008-08-19] Yelp expanded from its San Francisco roots to open an east coast office in Manhattancite web|url=|title=A Mighty Yelp! Review Site Gets $15M|last=McCarthy|first=Megan |publisher=CondéNet, Inc|accessdate=2008-10-01] in the first half of 2008 and by introducing a Canadian-focused version of the site in 2008.cite web|url=|title=Yelp bringing local reviews to your iPhone and the World|last=Jensen|first=Michael|date=2008-06-05|accessdate=2008-10-01] Profitability is expected in 2009.

Products and services

Local search

Yelp provides online local search capabilities for its visitors. A typical search includes what the user is seeking (i.e. barber shop) and the location from which the search is to be performed, entered as a specific address, neighborhood, city/state combination, or zip code. Each business listing result contains a 5-point rating, reviews from other site visitors, and details such as the business address, hours, accessibility, and parking. Site visitors can aid in keeping the business listings up to date, with moderator approval, and business owners can directly update their own business' listing information.cite news|publisher=TechCrunch|author=Nick Gonzalez|url=|title=Yelp Lets Businesses Fight Back|date=2008-04-28]

Listings and related content are organized by city and a multi-tier categorization system. Content and listings can also be discovered through categorized reviews or via Yelp member profiles and their review lists. Maps leveraging Google Maps show reviewed businesses to further aid in business discovery.

Information can be accessed by web or mobile browsers.


Yelp combines local reviews and social networking functionality to create a local online community. [cite news|title=Two Wrongs Make a Right|publisher=PC Magazine|date=2005-12-26|url=] cite news|url=|publisher=Washington Post|title=For Latest Reviews, Chefs Look Online|author=Seth Sutel|publisher=Associated Press|date=2007-07-03] Adding social web functionality to user reviews creates a de-facto reputation system, whereby site visitors can see which contributing users are the most popular, respected, and prolific, how long each has been a member, and which have interests similar to theirs. [cite news|url=|title=Social Design Patterns for Reputation Systems:An Interview with Yahoo's Bryce Glass (Part II)|author=Joshua Porter|date=2008-06-25] Strong peer feedback mechanisms and the featured placement of popular reviews on the site and in local newsletters help motivate contributors. [cite news|url=|publisher=New York Times|author=Saul Hansell|date=2008-5-12|title=Why Yelp Works] Yelp also applies a "First to Review" reward system to create a competition among contributing members, further motivating the creation of reviews and adding to the site's business coverage.

The company strengthens the online community through off-line events at nightclubs, bars, restaurants, and cultural venues in various cities for its most prolific and loyal contributors, named "Elite" members on the site. [cite web|url=|title= Social networks geared for offline success?|last=McCarthy|first=Caroline|publisher=CNet News|date=2007-06-22|accessdate=2008-08-19] cite web|url=|title=Business paradigm shifts and free tequila shots|publisher=Fortune,CNN|first=Jeffrey M.|last=O'Brien|date=2007-07-10|accessdate=2008-08-20] These members must provide a photo and their real name, and in return receive a special indicator on their personalized page for every year they author a specific number of reviews. The concept is meant to indicate that the user is a trusted author of business reviews. [cite web|url=|title= Understanding Community Leadership: An Interview with a Member of Yelp’s "Elite"|date=2008-05-28|accessdate=2008-08-20]

The site also has a forum for online socialization and to discuss local businesses and events.cite news|url=|publisher=San Francisco Chronicle|title=Casting the Net:Yelp is on the way|author=Heather Maddan|date=2006-06-18]

A number of competitors emulating these Yelp concepts have failed or were acquired. [cite news|publisher=TechCrunch|author=Michael Arrington|url=|date=2007-10-23|title=Judy's Book To Shut Down. Yelp Is The Last of The Local Review Sites Still Standing] [cite news|publisher=VentureBeat|title=Citysearch snaps up Insider Pages in local search race|author=Matt Marshall|date=2008-02-27|url=] cite news|title=Angry Businesses Organize Anti-Yelp Websites. This Is A Sure Sign Of Their Success.|publisher=TechCrunch|author=Calley Nye|url=|date=2008-7-02]


The Yelp sites have listings for businesses throughout the United States and Canada and accept reviews of any business or service. Listings vary widely in nature with the site including listings for storefronts such as restaurants and shops; service businesses such as doctors, hotels, and cultural venues; and non-business locations such as schools, museums, parks, and churches. [cite web|url=|title=Yelp Sales Pitch|date=2008-08-13|publisher=The Register|accessdate=2008-08-20]

San Francisco, the home city, remains the most active as of 2008, with significant adoption in 18 metro areas including Boston, Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., San Diego, and Los Angeles. San Francisco usage has earned the site over 4000 reviewed restaurant listings, some with 100s of reviews each. The site boasts of having over 2.3 million reviews overall as of February 2008. Reviews trend 85% positive as estimated by the CEO and are thought to come primarily from the 26-35yo demographic.


Yelp released a free REST- and JSON-based application programming interface (API) in August 2007. The API provides access to business listing details, reviews, photos, and ratings and can be used to add business information to a website, widget, or mobile application. [ Yelp Review Search API ] ] The API has been used to integrate business reviews into existing Google Maps applications such as on and [] .

Facebook Beacon integration

In December 2007 Yelp implemented Facebook Beacon. Changes to the site privacy policy were made to accommodate this feature, which experienced some negative press at the time. [cite web|url=|title=Facebook's Beacon More Intrusive Than Previously Thought|date=2007-11-30|first=Juan Carlos|last=Perez|publisher=PC World|accessdate=2008-08-20]

Advertising program

Businesses may advertise with Yelp for preferred search result placement and extra listing features. For the advertising fee, the business may include an individualized message and photo slide show onto the web page for its listing as well as receive reports on listing traffic.cite web|url=|title=Business Owners 'Yelp' About Internet Ratings Site|publisher=CBS 5|first=Jeanette|last=Pavini|date=2008-08-05|accessdate=2008-08-20] Additionally, these advertisers, called "Sponsors" on the site, are allowed to highlight a specific review and communicate with reviewers.


As with many review sites, Yelp has been criticized over the fairness of negative reviews on the site. Some business owners have even posted "No Yelpers" signs in frustration. [cite web|url=|title=No dogs, Yelpers allowed|publisher=CNet News|date=2007-08-41|accessdate=2008-08-26|first=Stefanie|last=Olsen] Yelp defends its practices and states that it will not censor user comments, although it does remove favorable reviews that are considered "suspicious". [cite web|url=|title=Business Owners 'Yelp' About Internet Ratings Site|first=Jeanette|last=Pavini|date=2008-08-05|accessdate=2008-08-26] Criticism has also be levied by business owners who believe that the ordering of reviews is controlled and used to pressure businesses into advertising, with salespersons suggesting negative reviews can be placed last for a fee. [cite web|url=|title=Yelp 'pay to play' pitch makes shops scream for help|publisher=The Register|date=2008-08-13|first=Cade|last=Metz|accessdate=2008-08-26] [cite web|url=|title=Business Owners 'Yelp' About Internet Ratings Site|first=Jeanette|last=Pavini|date=2008-08-05|accessdate=2008-08-26] Yelp rejects these charges and believes there is possibly confusion around the highlighted review offering.


External links

* [ Yelp USA]
* [ Yelp Canada]
* [ Yelp business owner portal]

Press coverage

* [ Yelp Gets $3M-Plus in VC Cash] . Red Herring.
* [ Tech's Best Young Entrepreneurs] . BusinessWeek.
* [ CASTING THE NET / Yelp is on the way] . San Francisco Chronicle
* [ Amateur reviews changing approach of small businesses] . San Francisco Chronicle
* [ When diners speak up online, restaurants listen] . Seattle Post Intelligencer
* [ Business paradigm shifts and free tequila shots] . Fortune.
* [ Business Owners 'Yelp' About Internet Ratings Site] .

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