Yelp's CEO isn't worried about Groupon or Google

Yelp's CEO isn't worried about Groupon or Google

Summary: Yelp's CEO discusses daily deals, Google's purchase of Zagat and going public during TechCrunch Disrupt 2011.


Yelp has gone through a bit of a reshuffling process with its daily deals process, but the company's co-founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman remains upbeat about Yelp's current state.

While speaking at TechCrunch Disrupt 2011 in San Francisco on Tuesday afternoon, Stoppelman went over Yelp's recent move to downsize its daily deals program while maintaining the site's well-known library of user reviews. He acknowledged that "it was tough to sell two products at the same time," but he isn't hampered by concerns about an over-saturated market.

"All it takes is a good deal and a good enough email list with a specific-enough" local market, advised Stoppelman, arguing that those factors pave the way to compete adequately with the likes of Groupon and LivingSocial.

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However, Yelp has developed a new approach to daily deals that points towards the other side of the company that got Yelp to where it is today as a leader in user reviews for restaurants and much more.

Now, local businesses can be more proactive and add promotions to their own Yelp pages within a few clicks. The idea here, Stoppelman said, is a more targeted approach in which businesses can reach customers who were interested in them rather than sending out an email to thousands of users who wouldn't have shopped there anyway.

One could argue that the point of promotions and deals is to attract new customers that don't know about a particular business, but this concept could has potential.

In the past few months, more than 8,000 businesses have participated in this particular program, and most of them have been posted by the companies themselves. The rest have stemmed from the efforts of Yelp's sales teams.

"Our core business still relies on a sales force," Stoppelman said, adding that the business can grow faster if you don’t need to add additional sales people to drive revenue. But he labeled that achievement as "the holy grail," so he's not pushing it.

Nor is he pushing to go public right away. Although Stoppelman revealed that Yelp is planning to do so within a "reasonable time frame," it doesn't look like it will happen any time soon as Stoppelman quipped that his motto is: "Do your best to under-promise and over-deliver." So maybe we'll see an IPO from Yelp come out of nowhere.

Regardless of the daily deals, reviews are still at the heart of Yelp and cannot be ignored. Yelp now has 63 million unique visitors monthly, and the site has seen traffic growth of up to 54 percent this year.

Stoppelman argued that his company has been successful for so long because it was able to do something that no one else has really solved in the form of word-of-mouth reviews online, citing competitors like Citysearch and even Google with its Maps, Places and Local services.

As for Google's purchase of Zagat, Stoppelman chuckled when he called it a "funny move," acknowledging that Zagat does have "some content on high-end restaurants," but there isn't much transparency on how that information is obtained nor how fresh it is.

To wrap up, when asked which company he worries about more, Groupon or Google, Stoppelman replied casually, "I worry about neither."


Topic: CXO

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  • RE: Yelp's CEO isn't worried about Groupon or Google

    As they should not be. There are plenty of deals and consumers to go around for everyone!
  • Yelp Clings On ... by its fingernails.

    "Yelp's CEO isn't worried about Groupon or Google" - so he says. What else can he possibly say?

    Fact is, Yelp and all the other 'directory' clones are simply paper ideas forced onto the web. They succeed only when businesses are scared not to be included. And the rest is mere window dressing and gimmickry.

    They certainly don't provide any useful service, except cluttering up search results and taking commission when you click on them by mistake, thinking you just might get some content! In fact there are so many, that they make it hard to get ANY information, sometimes.

    Price comparison sites are the the next step in the evolutionary chain; at least they have a function. But there's so many, that you need a price comparison comparison website in order top choose the best.

    But ALL such sites are really web parasites; those who have learned to use Google/Bing etc can live without them (and usually do); they are simply the middle man the Internet was designed to cut out.

    Yelp is doomed; not today, not tomorrow, but it's an evolutionary dead end (for those who prefer Incredible Design, that means it's a big imaginary lizard thing that doesn't really exist, though it may have before the Earth was made. Or not).

    Extinction seems to be a fate reserved for websites beginning with 'Y' ;)
  • RE: Yelp's CEO isn't worried about Groupon or Google


    We have recently implemented a system to outsmart yelp from hiding our filtered reviews:

    Step 1- first of all, if you're advertising with yelp, stop doing so and shift that money to optimize your own web site instead

    Step 2- have a graphic designer make a yelp badge that is placed on your web site. It should say "we have ...... filtered and unfiltered reviews on yelp".

    Step 3- when a visitor clicks on the badge, it will go to another page ON YOUR OWN WEB SITE (instead of going to yelp's. (why help them get traffic and rank higher anyways)?

    Step 4- on this page have your graphic designer get a screen capture (picture) of all your filtered and unfiltered reviews and have them pasted together onto one page.

    Now, all your reviews (filtered or not) will be visible to all your web site visitors.

    Advantages of doing this:

    1- your visitors will stay on your web site instead of being directed to yelp's

    2- your visitor can't click on your competitors

    3- no more being a slave to yelp's algorithm

    4- yelp would not benefit from getting traffic from you and higher rankings on google

    Just be sure to shift that $300 per month on yelp advertising and put it into KEYWORDS that people will search for.

    please pass this on to your friends and co-workers as soon as possible
    • RE: Yelp's CEO isn't worried about Groupon or Google


      Hey, that's a great idea!

      I'm going to start stealing review content from another website and pasting it on my own site! I mean, those customers are talking about MY business (that automatically means the design and review content belongs to me now).

      Oh, wait... it doesn't.

      But I agree, YOU should totally do that.