In this blog, I have focused on topics related to areas I think are ripe with innovation and, therefore, present fertile ground for venture investing. And I have rambled on about miscellaneous gadgets, technologies and anecdotes that have captured my imagination (or at least my attention). I deliberately shied away from referring to my Bessemer investments to prevent this from becoming a shameless promotional tool. I included the simple link to my investments in the right-hand column and left it at that.
If you haven't already explored Yelp, now would be a good time to check it out. If you wait much longer, you'll qualify for luddite status, because the rest of the Internet population will have discovered it before you. This is what one might call a blog brag, but here is Alexa's summary of Yelp's recent traffic growth:
For investors, few things in life are more pleasing than graphs that go up and to the right.
So, why did I invest in Yelp, and what is it?
My investment in Yelp was an outgrowth of my interest in community-oriented, user-generated content, but I'll blog more about that later. Yelp solves what I call "the Citysearch problem." I used to love Citysearch. It showcased what other people thought about everything local -- stores, restaurants, dentists, auto mechanics, etc. But over time it became virtually impossible to find a negative review about anything. All the content read like it had been written by a close relative of the store owner.
Enter Yelp. Yelp reveals who is behind the opinions. It lets you determine whether you share the same sensibilities as each reviewer. And then you can discover other local establishments you otherwise might never have found. Instinctively, we all consult friends for referrals when we're in need of a new doctor, the right restaurant for a special date, or a trustworthy mechanic. Yelp adds the power and scale of the Internet to these word-of-mouth referrals.
Yelp is also trying to become a verb. To Yelp about something is to share one's opinions. Mine accumulate at jeremyl.yelp.com. I have also added a helping of my Yelping to the right-hand column of this blog. Yelp's nifty Maptastic feature plots my reviews on a Google map. You can tell I spend most of my time bouncing between San Francisco and New York.
Yelp's talented team managed to incorporate the user interface je ne seis quoi which makes some sites really slick and fun to use. When you sign up, click Member Search near the top right of the page to search for me and add me as a friend.