With LinkedIn and Zynga already selling shares, Yelp could be the next social networking site to take the leap and release an IPO. That’s what CEO Jeremy Stoppelman told his audience at the MobileBeat conference in San Francisco this week, though he cautioned that it would not happen right away. Yelp has yet to start filling all the paperwork or finding bankers to back them, Stoppelman said, but the eventual release of an IPO is inevitable.
Yelp had a tumultuous start, marked by frequent complaints by business owners that the reviews they were getting were less than favorable. This was accompanied by charges that Yelp was manipulating reviews for money. “Yelp can be weird,” wrote the company’s CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, but, he added, there is a big difference between being weird is not the same as engaging in extortion.
Since then, the company has taken steps to improve its image and compete with rivals such as Groupon, which has already filed for an IPO. While Groupon offers great deals, its biggest failing is that most people looking for a place to go for dinner won’t get very far with today’s deal for a glass-blowing class. Sure, they can make the plates, but can they eat them? Yelp countered in November with “Check-in Offers.” Businesses can choose to reward favored Yelp users with coupons for discounts.
Still, Yelp is facing competition, most recently from Sunnyvale’s Bizzy.com, which combines the reviews of Yelp with the brevity of Twitter and a network of like-minded people. One way for Yelp to position itself as the review leader is to get its IPO out quickly. As Stoppelman indicated, now it’s more than just a theoretical move.