Google covets Yelp; Here comes the Borg of local content

Google is reportedly in talks to buy Yelp for $500 million. Sure, buyouts are a fine exit strategy for startups, but does Google (insert any other Web giant here too) have to buy everything that someday could be a threat?

Google is reportedly in talks to buy Yelp for $500 million. Sure, buyouts are a fine exit strategy for startups, but does Google (insert any other Web giant here too) have to buy everything that someday could be a threat?

TechCrunch first reported the Google-Yelp talks and the New York Times is confirming them.

Now let's play this out. Google buys Yelp, a big review site for local businesses. It gets access to local listings and reviews. Google then connects it all to Google Maps and its trendy bar code scanning toy and lines up local keyword ads. Through the purchase of AdMob it gets all mobile on you and sends you coupons to your phone (an Android-powered device of course).

See where this is going? Google is your friendly neighborhood local business gatekeeper. Google is already the gatekeeper for the big guys. The Google is a local content Borg. Resistance is futile. So is innovation. Any threat these days gets acquired. See: Google, Microsoft, Yahoo as Ford, GM and Chrysler

It's all just a little too creepy.

Wharton professor Eric Clemons sums it up:

"Any company that has a high-fixed-price product can be threatened by Google. It's not just advertising for Google -- it is control of electronic distribution."

But you can't blame Yelp. The company has listings everywhere, the Times reports that it has $30 million in revenue and the VCs involved in Yelp aren't going to complain about a nice exit. But with any luck the leaks of the talks will encourage others to make an offer for Yelp. Why? Just to make things more interesting and it would be nice if a company other than Google acquired some local mojo. Microsoft? Yahoo? AOL? Apple? Are you listening?

Notice I've already caved. Those potential rival buyers of Yelp are all just different versions of Google---a big ass Borg.

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