Yelp is an American public company headquartered in San Francisco, California. The company develops, hosts, and markets the Yelp.com website and the Yelp mobile app, which publish crowd-sourced reviews about businesses. It also operates an online reservation service called Yelp Reservations.
Yelp was founded in 2004 by former PayPal employees Russel Simmons and Jeremy Stoppelman. Yelp grew in usage and raised several rounds of funding in the following years. By 2010 it had $30 million in revenue, and the website had published about 4.5 million crowd-sourced reviews. From 2009 to 2012, Yelp expanded throughout Europe and Asia. In 2009, it entered several negotiations with Google for a potential acquisition. Yelp became a public company in March 2012 and became profitable for the first time two years later. As of the second quarter of 2019, Yelp reported having a monthly average of 61.8 million unique visitors via desktop computer and 76.7 million unique visitors via its mobile website. As of June 30, 2019, Yelp stated on their Investor Relations page that it had 192 million reviews on its site.The company has been accused of using unfair practices to raise revenue from the businesses that are reviewed on its site – e.g., by presenting more negative review information for companies that do not purchase its advertising services or by prominently featuring advertisements of the competitors of such non-paying companies or conversely by excluding negative reviews from companies’ overall rating on the basis that the reviews “are not currently recommended.” There have also been complaints of aggressive and misleading tactics by some of its advertising sales representatives. The company’s review system’s reliability has also been affected by the submission of fake reviews by external users, such as false positive reviews submitted by a company to promote its own business or false negative reviews submitted about competing businesses – a practice sometimes known as “astroturfing”, which the company has tried to combat in various ways.