Yelp blew up traditional directories by putting its users in control--and then following them off the desktop and onto the mobile frontier. With more than 120 million monthly visitors spread across 24 countries, Yelp is the gold standard for up-to-the-second local “best of” guides, covering everything from dry cleaners to sushi. Visionary founder Jeremy Stoppelman talks about expanding Yelp’s services from information to transactions, closing the loop with local businesses, and the delicate art of going global.
What to do after your fist year of Harvard business school, doing an internship at an incubator? Why not starting an own company?! Jeremy Stoppelman did it in Summer 2004 and founded Yelp, a website for connecting with friends, their recommendations, and reviews of products. Local newspapers weren't useful anymore for him. It was the time of friendster and flickr, the first apps with a friend connecting approach. Amazon started with reviews of products - why not connecting these two possibilities? Jeremy was excited about it to ask friends about their tipps, to write own reviews and to share it with them and others. Yelp should be making recommendations easier und much better than newspapers.
At the beginning social sharing functionality didn't exist. But you were able to send the review via email out to your friends - and it's your own review, your own point of view. Yelp was more like a blog, but with more structure, Jeremy remembers.
Yelp quickly took ride on and became very popular in San Francisco, a good argument for a funding.
Today 100 million people worldwide are using Yelp and even in Europe Yelp has now a significant traffic. In late 2012 they bought their top competitor in Europe, Qype. As a consequence some problems popped up. The cultural differences between the US and Europe made it necessary to change a lot in the Community Management. Local Community Managers for e.g. Munich are now working with the community. But you can't create a community over night. To communicate what Yelp is doing is still very important for the community.
For a lot of companies the step from website to mobil is a big transition, but not for Yelp. The first mobile site started in 2006.
"We made an early decision to bet big on iPhone"
Now contributing photos is one of the favorite features of the Yelp app, because it's so easy to use it via phone.
According to Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp runs sting operations to catch businesses paying for fake positive reviews. Businesses that offer special prices for reviews are being downgraded by them. Goal: they want ensure reliability of content.