Tuesday, November 04, 2008

The NY Times Says Yelp has Arrived

It's not often that the venerable New York Times publishes a glowing piece on one of my portfolio companies. This is a welcome bit of good cheer amidst the backdrop of a generally gloomy economy.  When I invested in the young company founded by Jeremy S. and Russ S. back in 2005, Yelp had attracted about 100,000 San Franciscans to its site.  Today, with more than 15,000,000 monthly visitors, it seems to have "come of age" -- at least enough to get serious coverage from the NY Times.  Yelp has more or less been a household name in Silicon Valley for a couple of years already, but I'm especially excited to see it turning heads now in New York as well.  

As the article points out, Yelp is not just about restaurants. It's good for everything from hair salons to insurance brokers. The courageous Megan C. even used Yelp to share thoughts on the doctor that performed her anatomical modification. Now that's what I call broad coverage.

Among the many reasons Yelp is succeeding is that it easily passes the multiple choice test for consumer internet startups that I blogged about 18 months ago.  Later this week, I'm hoping to post a similar multiple choice test for enterprise software companies, though I don't anticipate success with that test will lead to any articles in the NY Times Dining Section.

10 comments:

Cory Levy said...

Very cool. Congrats on Yelp's coverage!

Greg said...

Congrats!

Of course The Times didn't disclose it was already flattered in Yelp reviews...

fizmhd said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
fizmhd said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

March 9, 2009


As an investor in Yelp I am sure you have seen the article in the East Bay Express
on Yelps extortion of small businesses. This is true, has happened to me and every
business in my neighborhood. It’s like the mob has moved to the internet.

You should be ashamed of yourself, your reputation is ruined. In a time of economic
crisis when businesses are holding on by a thread, you promote destruction and increase
the job losses from reviews written by 14 year olds.
You must be embarrassed to even shop in your neighborhood, oh wait a minute I bet you
shop with the corporates that have outsourced overseas, never mind.

The truth always rises to the top, and it has.

Jeremy said...

Anonymous poster (on March 9, 2009),

I presume you are also the individual who emailed me under the alias "Snap415 Snap" as the contents of your comment here match that email exactly.

Of course I saw the article from the small Berkeley newspaper, and I also read the Yelp response (see http://officialblog.yelp.com/2009/02/east-bay-express-story-starts-to-unravel.html) and the much more balanced pieces written in reputable publications like the New York Times (see http://officialblog.yelp.com/2009/03/nytimes-on-yelp-1.html). The bottom line is that the East Bay Express story was loaded with "anonymous" and off-the-record sources. The story made a lot of assertions but had little in the way of hard facts.

I have been quite proud of Yelp since investing in the company in 2005, and my pride has only increased as I have watch Yelp's executive team respond to allegations of business owners who feel they have been wronged. Clearly, Yelp can improve its communications with business owners, but in the long run, I am confident Yelp will continue to be the highly valued source of information on local businesses that it is today.

As you put it, "The truth always rises to the top." Generally, people with the truth on their side tend to use their own names and cite clear facts in making their cases. Hiding behind anonymity while taking vague pot-shots erodes one's argument considerably.

Anonymous said...

I am Anonymous because I don't have a blogger ID. The off the records were because those who have spoken up have had the Lord of the Flies attack their businesses. We small business owners know the truth, all of us. Yelp is about extortion, the East Bay Express got it right, and the SF weekly. Still saying you should be ashamed, but I can see you are not. Karma.......karma.

Jeremy said...

Anonymous,

Your explanation that you are anonymous because you lack a Blogger ID is absurd. You sent me an anonymous email as well. Do you not have an email account under your own name? Regardless, are you incapable of signing an email or a blog comment with your real name?

I believe you have elected to be anonymous because you are embarrassed (or, as you put it, ashamed) about what you have done. In particular, I suspect you are one of the small group of local merchants that was caught by Yelp's anti-spam system plugging your own business or aligning with a handful of other small business owners to plug each other's businesses. This sort tactic meant to trick consumers is not tolerated by Yelp, and, thankfully, Yelp has developed some effective technology to fight it.

If you care to tell me (and my blog readers) who you are, I would gladly visit your Yelp profile page and patronize your local business to form my own opinion as to whether you have been wronged in some fashion by Yelp's web site. If you'd rather take anonymous pot-shots at a Yelp, which is a service valued by 20+ million consumers every month, please find another forum on which to do that.

Thanks,
Jeremy

Anonymous said...

Jeremy,

You are too funny, spin, spin, spin.
Yelp shakes businesses down. The kids review people who don't hire them, fire them, ex's work. Its a flawed concept, the reviewers have no credibility and are anonymous.
Yelp kids flamed me but I still make a living. Yelp tried to shake me down for
$300 bucks per month and I told em to bug off. I threatened to sue Yelp and the Lord of the Flies attacked my business from as far away as the east coast one day. LOL

My name is Rebecca Sarinelli
My business is North Beach Copy
523 Green Street
San Francisco CA 94133

Come on in Jeremy, we specialize in litigation copy. We do a favor to the neighborhood in letting them use our service, while they don't come close to paying our costs or rent.

Come on by, Jeremy.

Jeremy said...

Rebecca, thanks for removing anonymity from the discussion. I checked out your business reviews on Yelp (http://www.yelp.com/biz/north-beach-copy-center-san-francisco-2), and they look pretty reasonable (note, I live in NY and have not yet visited your shop myself, but I will to do so next time I'm in San Francisco). Most of the reviews are quite positive, and you have an overall rating of 4-stars, which is excellent. What underpins your feeling that you have been wronged? It's hard to see what has upset you from your business profile page on Yelp.