User-generated reviews giant Yelp has joined the stock market goldrush by filing an initial public offering (IPO) of up to $100m in shares.
Since rejecting a reported $500m acquisition offer from Google in 2010, the company has apparently been preparing for this move, which could value the company at over $2b.
Little more than a decade ago, Microsoft was public enemy number one. After the United States Justice Department filed suit, a judge ruled that the world's largest software maker was a monopoly and must be broken up.
That ruling was overturned, and in 2001, the company settled with the Department of Justice.
Today, Microsoft is still one of the world's largest software makers, and Internet Explorer, the product that was the focus of so much of the government's action against the company, is still the world's most widely-used internet browser.
The company, however, has been humbled in markets like search and mobile, which were nascent in 2001. The implication: try as hard as they might, big technology companies can't use their size to guarantee success.
For many merchants owners, daily deals services are very attractive. Their promise: lots of customers coming through the doors in a short period of time. And no up-front fees to boot.
The appeal of the daily deal has driven the growth of some of the fastest growing companies ever.
Yesterday, Google announced that it is acquiring Zagat, a company whose name has become synonymous with printed restaurant guides. By size, the acquisition is likely nowhere near Google's largest.
As observed by TechCrunch, it appears that the acquisition price was under $66m.
But Google's Zagat acquisition has created quite a lot of buzz, and for good reason: this could arguably be Google's most problematic and challenging acquisition ever.
When you want to know whether the restaurant down the street is worth
eating at, there's a decent chance you'll turn to online services like
Yelp to see what other diners in your area have to say about it.
This is despite the fact that local government agencies, such as those
that enforce health rules, probably have data that's
more interesting to you than John Doe's angry rant about a rude waiter.
As a big fan of location-based applications (I'm currently 'checking in' at various locations on five different apps...!) I have of course been watching the launch and subsequent spread of Facebook Places with great interest.
Now that the first batch of dust has had a chance to settle, I wanted to look in a bit more detail at some of the hurdles 'Places' may face in the coming months, if past experience is to be believed.
If there's a sexy space on the consumer internet right now, group buying is it. Although there are arguments about whether or not market leader Groupon's first national deal with Gap was really as successful as it appears on the surface, one thing is for sure: companies large and small smell big money in group buying deals.
One of those companies is Yelp, and although it has plenty of competition, Yelp may be one of the few upstarts with the potential to put a dent, even if slight, in Groupon's rise.
Last week, popular reviews site Yelp announced that it had teamed up
with OpenTable to offer Yelp users the ability to book restaurant
reservations through OpenTable directly on the Yelp site.
A Yelp-OpenTable relationship is one that some have speculated about
for some time now, and given that 29% of the businesses reviewed on
Yelp are restaurants, the integration between the two services seems like a no-brainer.
If you're a local merchant with a bricks-and-mortar presence, it's time to kiss the yellow pages goodbye. There's no longer any excuse for not having a web presence or for ignoring digital marketing. Eighty-two percent of people use search engines to find information about local businesses - more than any other media. Even if you don't have a website (you should, but that's another story), there are six sites no local business can afford to ignore.
Not only is getting listed dead simple, it's a great leveler. If you own a pizza place, you can compete head-to-head with national chains like Dominos. Hardware? Go up against Home Depot and Lowes. You get the idea.
Claiming your business and getting listed and on all five of the Big Six should only take an hour or so (though most require you wait for a postcard or phone call o verify that you are who you say you are). Once you've enlisted, and taken advantage of some of the special features these sites offer (mostly for free), you'll reap many advantages. You'll have a presence in organic search results, not only on the web, but also on mobile platforms.
You can offer special deals and inducements to lure new business, you can encourage positive reviews and, to a degree, manage your online reputation. You can precisely map your location and help people to find it, and broadcast your hours of operation. And you'll have access to analytics that can inform you of the keywords used to find your business, the time of day people search for you and other data that can help improve your online presence, offers and advertising and promotional campaigns.
With a near-zero investment of time and money, there's absolutely no excuse to not get started with The Big Six.
Online reputation management is an increasingly important subject for
businesses. And for good reason: consumers are on the internet, and
they're talking about the businesses they interact with. From reviews
posted on sites like Amazon to dedicated customer review hubs like
Yelp, there is no shortage of online places for consumers to express
their opinions about businesses (and their products and services).
But what about individuals? While some have tried to bring the reviews
to an individual level, there's really no Yelp for people. A new
startup that is receiving some attention and sparking some controversy
hopes to change that.