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GOOG in discussions to buy Yelp

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9:00 am on Dec 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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TechCrunch article:

Google and Yelp are in advanced acquisition negotiations, we’ve confirmed from multiple sources. [..] The price is supposedly at least $500 million. Yelp was founded in 2004 as a way to let users leave reviews on local businesses.

[techcrunch.com...]

3:12 pm on Dec 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Pretty amazing. I wonder if Yelp's strong presence in the Bay Area was a factor in making them worth $500 mil. They are a top 100 site in the US, no small deal, but have huge mindshare in the SF/SJ area.
3:26 pm on Dec 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I would guess that it all ties into the Google phone plan. They are preparing to dominate the phone, search, local space.
3:45 pm on Dec 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Yep, if mobile is the future, restaurant and local business info will be a huge driver.
4:31 pm on Dec 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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One more reason (not that they needed one) for local newspapers to hate Google.
4:32 pm on Dec 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I'm not sure why the general public still thinks that 'restaurants, movies, and such' will be huge in the local search. The American society is getting poorer and poorer so they will be cooking at home and watching movies at home too. Only tourists will be able to afford going to restaurants ;).
6:00 pm on Dec 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Wow great news for the Yelp team if this works out.
9:00 pm on Dec 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Having Joe blow and Jane Doe create content for a search engine? At first glance that may seem helpful but then you remember that a bunch of G execs will sit in an overly large room somewhere drinking overly expensive water while thinking of overly god-aweful ideas to monetize their new "user content" further.

Such a turn off.

I can't think of a single site in which I actually fully trust the reviews actually, with the exception of WW of course.

9:13 pm on Dec 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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>I can't think of a single site in which I actually fully trust the reviews actually, with the exception of WW of course.

True enough. Of course, any sane person would say the same thing about newspapers, magazines, anything out of the broadcast-media-mafia world, not to mention barkers on street corners.

Anything in e-mail, however, must be true.

9:59 pm on Dec 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I can't think of a single site in which I actually fully trust the reviews

I'll go along with that.

Trusting technical advice is one thing. Trusting a "review" or referral is another.

No way would I take such a face value. I don't really care if 995 shills like a particular cafe.

I want to be able to use a SE to find the cafe, then I'll make my own mind up about the quality of the food and service.

10:28 pm on Dec 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I'm not sure the value is in the reviews as Google maps is already linking to lots of reviews including Google's own reviews.

All the information collected at Yelp about all the different business locations and blending that directly into Google Maps is where I think the real value lies.

Basically gives them a huge boost over waiting for individual shop owners to register at Google which must be growing slower than expected otherwise Yelp wouldn't be so attractive.

11:25 pm on Dec 18, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Rather concerning for the internet yellow pages companies, though.
1:04 am on Dec 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I just read reviews about some of my favorite restaurants. They are authentic, but biased toward negative side. Unhappy customers write reviews more often than the happy ones. I am glad I went to those restaurants without reading any review.

However, I would love to see some reviews about dentists and doctors though. How often they are proposing deep cleaning or removal of wisdom teeth :-)

6:53 am on Dec 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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So we can expect some boost for Yelp on Google search results huh? What a concept.

When you search for local info on Google, all you see is ads on top, ads on right, map (with ads) in the middle and search results somewhere on the bottom of the page. Now we can expect some more yelp results right below those maps. Oh yeah, there is also the Google shopping in the middle of it too.

I wonder how long would that take before they remove search results from the page completely.

Yelp suxs, most of those reviews are written by their staff or some wanna be writers.

12:52 pm on Dec 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Yelps biggest issue is scale. You can't monitor and moderate that many users and posts as well as they need to be monitored.

They just recently in the last year started allowing companies to respond. Something that should have been there from day one.

At pubcon I overheard some marketers talking about how they game Yelp. They have a tough road ahead.

2:56 pm on Dec 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Answer: Google's Place Pages.

Question: What to bring to a gunfight . . err . . negotiation, with Yelp. [webmasterworld.com]

Related questions: G is buying "what"? Patents? "An experienced team"? The acceleration of a platform? Advancement on the social media front, a front in the never ending war for eyeballs that G heretofore hasn't quite been winning?

$500 million? For a review site? Sounds a bit . . _______ (you fill in the blank line). :P

Hmmmm . . . Get your business reviewed on a Google controlled site . . a site that likely runs Ads by Google . . and then what happens to the "reviewed business's" appetitie for consuming Google Ads?

Question: Do Yelp reviews now gain a stronger foothold in the Google Presents The World's Information ecosystem? Why wouldn't they?

I get this. IF search is moving away from discovery to discovery + review + recommendation . . it makes sense, sortof -> platform accelerator, experience, ownership of the ad income stream, . .

Does anyone know who invested in Yelp and what relationships exist between Yelp's investors and Google's players and dealmakers?

11:08 pm on Dec 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I don't think Yelp needed for reviews.

G$$g wants to put this up into "free" SERP. Searching now for "restaurant widgetwille", I counted 5 actual free SERP results above the fold, out of total 14 text results and 7 G$$gle maps results, giving google 16 out of 21 links that are theirs. Yelp listing can be 17th.

Imagine, all that traffic, and only 20% is now "leaking" for free to other sites (4 out of 21).

They are taking over "free" SERPS which are no longer "free". And they will throw traffic Yelp's way now, which will be their cash cow. Do you know how much money local businesses spend on local ads if you can guarantee traffic? Thousands per year, EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THEM.

Ca-ching!...$$$$

11:25 pm on Dec 19, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Now that I thought about it, it is actually worse.

If you own a website that is targetting a local area, and gets direct local advertising...they pay you because until now Google sent them local traffic for free. Now watch google send all that traffic to yelp, and yelp's listing prices go sky high. You think small local businesses would have extra few thousand $ to pay you AND Google?

1:32 am on Dec 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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if this keeps up in 5 years google will be the internet overlord. There will be no internet ONLY google.

that will be a sad day.

5:08 am on Dec 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I think this is a good acquisition for Google. What other review sites are out there, BBB? Yelp is also a big discussion social network site, kind of like a miniature Twitter, not just reviews. People want to talk about experiences with feedback and social validation. With the ability to go large scale, just like Craigslist this is a fair price.

The clientele seems to be mostly a younger crowd, urbanites, skateboarders, etc. who use Yelp as a very liberal and rather rebellious, sometimes vindictive tool. They all get together and go to these strange social outings if you get "elite status" and talk about how they are in the "in crowd". They mention this to restaurants they visit and get free meals and services. Kind of like being a lobbiest, or blackmailer depending upon how you look at it.

3:55 pm on Dec 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Looks like they turned them down:

...something happened that made Yelp reconsider the deal. Over the weekend they notified Google that they were not going to sell, say multiple sources.

[techcrunch.com...]

6:24 pm on Dec 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

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good for yelp, google shouldn't be able to just buy up the internet....but they sure are trying to!
11:35 pm on Dec 22, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I think it makes a lot of sense for Google. Gain access to the traffic of a top site that is locally focused. The traffic quality on Yelp is infinitely more valuable to a small, local business than anything Google can offer. With a friend who just opened a local eye car business in Chicago, they started getting 2-3 appointments a day off Yelp after a couple customers put up favorable reviews.

As for Yelp, I don't know how you turn that kind of money down. Maybe the details of the deal weren't as favorable as TechCrunch is reporting, but I still think you need to sell high these days. With the nature of the web and how companies and concepts can fall from grace rather quickly when the next big thing steps in, I'd happily take the fat paycheck.

7:04 pm on Dec 23, 2009 (gmt 0)

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its good for google, but bad for the internet.

if you develop a quality high traffic website here comes google with a big check for you so they can buy that next chunk of the internet.

7:53 pm on Feb 7, 2010 (gmt 0)

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What keeps Google from removing Yelp from its search engine, I mean isn't yelp essentially exploiting the google algorithms for its on gain and not necessarily for google? Is google charging yelp?

I don't trust yelp and its owner to police the site and wonder how long it will be before google shuts them down.

[edited by: tedster at 11:13 pm (utc) on Feb 7, 2010]

 

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