Google covets Yelp; Here comes the Borg of local content

Google covets Yelp; Here comes the Borg of local content

Summary: 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.

Topics: CXO, Google

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  • Message has been deleted.

    • Startups should struggle through and stay honest.

      As soon as you take money from pigs (VC's) (people that think they are entitled to more money just because they have money) the whole system is ****** up.
  • RE: Google covets Yelp; Here comes the Borg of local content

    This is great news for local search companies who offer reviews and ratings. The buyout brings value and demand to the sector. The downside is for companies who use the Yelp API such as It makes a local search company who uses Yelp API just like everybody else.
  • vote!

    Vote with your pocket book. If you don't like it, stop using google. Anything else is really just so much hot air.

    • exactly right

      I agree with you. In addition, I can say that Google has made a positive
      difference in my life. So no hostility from me toward them.
    • Most users are not smart users

      I agree with you and most technical people know how to change or jump ship but the same does not apply to "end users".

      As long as we have untrained and technically-illiterate users I'm afraid Google has the upper hand and knows what it's doing.
      • RE: Most users are not smart users

        The issue really goes beyond just google...privacy laws need a serious overhaul. It needs to be clearer to the users how their personal information is used. It's hard to regulate corporations on a global scale, so more likely a "privacy rating" should be given to corporations who chose to participate. So if google fails to provide transparency to the users, google would get a low rating.

        So your point is a good one. Consumers do need knowledge when making those pocketbook decisions.

  • RE: Google covets Yelp; Here comes the Borg of local content

    heh, brings it all together in one big cohesive mass of
    information. Good for consumers as it's free for them,
    good for Yelp! as their big boys are going to get a nice
    big wedge of cash, good for whomever buys them.

    Google WILL take over the world and be running the world
    wide government. Well hey, that'd be good right? Look how
    their employees are treated ;)
  • RE: Google covets Yelp; Here comes the Borg of local content

    And what is better for consumers? I fail to see how the borg is bad for consumers _in this specific instance_.
  • RE: Google covets Yelp; Here comes the Borg of local content

    I don't know why people keep complaining about privacy
    and Google- or trying to tie the two together

    As with pretty much any online service you use,
    Flickr, Digg, C|Net, NYT Online, WSJ, MySpace (all of
    which aren't Google or Google owned by the way) you
    pretty much waive your privacy online and will have
    that visit information used to make money. Google
    really is no different from any other legitimate
    online company trying to make money, because you know-
    the whole "company" thing requires money to survive
    and pay the bills...

    I think it's great that Google is in talks to acquire
    this company, shows that they aren't sitting still,
    and want to provide an even better service to their
    customers. If you don't like Googles' privacy and data
    policies, don't use their services. It is pretty much
    common knowledge that Google will use the information
    they pry from you to not only their benefit, but yours
    as well.

    I for one feel that I get a good value for the Google
    services I use, and am willing to contribute what data
    I can to help them serve me better by using the
    services, which in turn works full circle. If you
    don't like how you aren't getting more from the whole
    process, buy shares in Goog, otherwise, move on..
  • RE: Google covets Yelp; Here comes the Borg of local content

    completely agree. Google even came out with URL shortener with similar thoughts.They want all electronic distribution to pass through the Google gate. Then they may even promote social advertising through connected to google accounts.
  • RE: Google covets Yelp; Here comes the Borg of local content

    You donot get it, it is not the privacy. It is about the overall influence and control. They will dictate how open source communities worked someday.
  • RE: Google covets Yelp; Here comes the Borg of local content

    I know I will prpbaly get flamed for this, but isn't gooogle doing some of the things Mecrosoft were doing!! Just another version of Big brother if you ask me. I liked google when they were the little guy, but with a stock price at over $500 they are not the little guy anymore. I guess we will have to be even more aware of the future "big brothers"
  • RE: Google covets Yelp; Here comes the Borg of local content

    Someone said that Google is attacking open source. Open source? Really? Yelp is open source? Didn't know that. Thanks for explaining

    (Edit, posted this in the wrong thread)
  • BIG IS BAD!!! (don't you know)

    No matter how useful the product or service a new company offers; if it is disorganized, inefficient, pays poor wages, doesn't take risks, or makes any one numerous other mistakes in it's efforts to bring the product to market, it will fail. At best it will struggle along until a different, more insightful organization swallows it up. Often, even if it does everything right and is "rip roaringly" successful, another company will buy it and incorporate it's useful features under a single umbrella. Google is a case in point. They seem too have done it ALL right. They pay well, treat their employees well, offer a consistently superior service/product, take risks (but not absurd risks) and have succeeded and grown exponentially. They are big, and getting bigger.

    BUT, because of that they are the BORG?? Come on people, open your eyes. Big can be good. Not to intentionally kick a hornet's nest (well, maybe a little), Microsoft is the best thing that ever could have happened to bring the desktop computer, and then computers in general, to the masses. (Linux and open source never would have and never will - deal with it!). Apple could have, but screwed up early on, I'm glad they survived their stupidity though. Then as Microsoft grew IT became the "evil one", simply because it was (is) pretty much the only game in town. Now Google has become the boogie man for the same reason, because it has been a far superior competitor.

    I admit, sometimes Big IS BAD (read, WAL MART!!, a manifestly cancerous organization). Or for that matter read "HUMANITY" a six billion plus destructive force to the planet which breeds uncontrollably, paves, pollutes consumes, destroys wantonly.... but I digress.

    But GOOGLE, to be feared? Sure it could go bad (Microsoft has crowded the edge), but for now, I for one hold them in high regard. Google has presented a business model any company would be wise to emulate, and it'd be a better world for it!
    • Seriously, dude....

      ....put down the Kool-Aid, step away from the terminal, and walk slowly to the exit....
      • Seriously, dude....

        Amen to that! Google has an obligation to its stockholders to make the
        company as profitable as possible. If that means buying everything
        imaginable, so be it. As long as Google does no harm to citizens, calling it
        evil or the Borg is ludicrous. Invading and selling my privacy?! What
        expectation of privacy could one possibly have when placing information
        on a non-secure sight? People need to get over this concept of large
        companies being inherently evil. To the best of my knowledge, Google has
        not not been accused nor convicted of any crime. Last time I checked, one
        was supposed to be innocent until proven guilty in this country. Truly, put
        down the Kool-Aid!
    • The problems with becoming too big is this

      They employ so many people that if they were to fold, they constitute a significant risk to the economy, in terms of consumer buying power, and payroll taxes.

      Becoming too big means they have the ability to stiffen competition and innovation. Using your Walmart example, only a big box store can compete with another big box. Ma and Pop stores have no chance. And being able to have a start up that can even remotely compete is impossible.

      Say if I wanted to develop an operating system, that I believe being built from the ground up, will be far superior to that of Windows or Apple, what chance do I have to really bring that to market? The only chance is to be a developer in R&D in an already big company who wants to edge into that market.

      When the companies get so big that they have this product that they have been milking for so long, that they no longer know how to innovate with it. They typically do not sink any R&D into it, to improve. So any modifications they make, are more glossing or waxing. True innovation happens when someone stands back and says you know I think we can do this better, so lets tear this down and rebuild it from the ground up.
  • RE: Google covets Yelp; Here comes the Borg of local content

    "It?s all just a little too creepy."

    It's refreshing to hear somebody admit to feelings like this. Google is so trendy, and their PR machine so effective, it almost feels like some sort of sacrilegious heresy to utter their name (unless in the usual worshipful tones).

    It?s reassuring that more people are beginning to see through the hype, and realise that this is just another major corporation. Google led the way in search -- with a product so simple yet so right that it deservedly entered the mainstream. They?ve been dining out on it ever since.

    I?ll meditate on this when I go past the numerous new Google billboard posters on my way home from work, advertising their brand all the way from London and into the rural Home Counties in all directions. These new Google adverts are all for one product: their web browser.

    Web browsers are free. They always have been. You can download which ever browser you want. All people what is a browser that works and that?s convenient. There?s really no need to advertise.

    Of course, it?s all about aggressively promoting the Google brand, while taking every opportunity to unprofessionally criticise and complain about commercial rivals.
    Tim Acheson
  • RE: Google covets Yelp; Here comes the Borg of local content

    "Google has presented a business model any company would be wise to emulate"

    Not really. Google is one of the few companies that can afford to run a loss-making enterprise like YouTube, which makes a loss estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars each year. They still don't know how they'll make it profitable.

    People get carried away with Google. They're not working miracles. They led the way in search, and have been dining out on that ever since.
    Tim Acheson