Who won in the booming Yelp debut

Krystal Peak · March 2, 2012 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/24c5

From Bessemer, Elevation to Benchmark, Yelp's CEO: many execs are smiling after 63% pop

Online consumer-review site Yelp had one stellar day. The first day of public trading for the eight-year-old company started with a serious bang when, the already high IPO price of $15 (which was above the projected $12-14 range) was blown out of the water when trading started at $22. That initial 30% excited investors that, at one point drove the stock up to $26 before it closed the day at $24.50 -- an impressive 63% bump for its debut day.

And for a company that has yet to turn a profit, this showing has several investors and executives popping champagne.

Over the last eight years, Yelp has raised more than $56 million from VC firms and various angel investors and has catapulted Yelp's management team into a whole new tax bracket. 

Investment firms that are reaping the jet-propulsion Yelp experienced on its first day of trading including Bessemer Venture Partners which led a $5 million round in 2005, Benchmark Capital which led the Series-C funding of $10 million in 2006, DAG Ventures which led the $15 million funding round in 2008 and Elevation Partners which led the $25 million Series-E funding at the opening of 2010.

Coming in at the top of the winners' list is Bessemer Venture Partners. The firm's participation in backing Yelp since 2005 has resulted in the receipt of 11.7 million shares of the company, which equates to $286.7 million. Bessemer also retains the largest share of voting power for the company at 22.1%.

Next in line are the executives and entities tied to Elevation Partners which contributed the single largest round of funding just two years ago. Elevation holds 11.6 million shares of the company and will be adjusting the company balance sheets to the tune of $284.2 million.

This includes the shares held by Fred Anderson, a managing director and Co-Founder of Elevation Partners.

Anderson was the executive vice president and CFO of Apple Computer in years past and continues to invest in landmark tech innovations across the globe.



Benchmark Capital clocks in the fourth greatest gain from the Yelp IPO with its 8.4 million shares, now worth $205 million. Peter Fenton is greatly to thank for this investment choice.

Back in 2006, Fenton joined Benchmark Capital and has invested in: Coremetrics (acquired by IBM), FriendFeed (acquired by Facebook), JBoss (acquired by RedHat), Reactivity (acquired by Cisco), SpringSource (acquired by VMWare), Terracotta (acquired by Software AG), Xensource (acquired by Citrix), and Zimbra (acquired by Yahoo!).




Former mentor to Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, Max Levchin, who provided the Series-A funding of $1M in July of 2004, recieved 7.1 million shares valued at $174 million. Levchin is the founder and CEO of Slide, which has created popular Web applications on Facebook, desktop platforms, and elsewhere.

Now, as chairman Yelp, Levchin is benefiting from his ground floor investment on a company trading at a relatively high multiple right out of the gate -- at more than 10 times revenue. Prior to Slide he was the co-founder and CTO of PayPal, which was sold to eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002. Levchin also retains more voting power than the CEO, with 13.5%.

Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp CEO doesn't just have the top spot at Yelp, but is holding the most shares within the company's executive team, with 5.9 million shares, valued at $144.6 million.

 Prior to Yelp, Jeremy was the vice president of engineering at PayPal. Stoppelman founded Yelp in 2004 with the financial backing of his mentor Max Levchin.

Stoppelman also maintains 11.1% of the total voting power in the company. 



Geoff Donaker, Yelp COO, is holding just north of 900,000 shares of the San Francisco company which brings his stake in the company to $22 million.

Prior to Yelp, Donaker spent five years building Web communities at eBay and joined Yelp in 2005 to head business development. Donaker has held the role of COO since 2006.



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Yelp is the fun and easy way to find, review and talk about what's great (and not so great) in your world. You already know that asking friends is the best way to find restaurants, dentists, hairstylists, and anything local. Yelp makes it fast and easy by collecting and organizing your friends' recommendations in one convenient place.

Yelp is...

...the ultimate city guide that taps into the community's voice and reveals honest and current insights on local businesses and services on everything from martinis to mechanics.

...just real people, writing real reviews, and that's the real deal.

...a fun and engaging place for passionate and opinionated influencers to share the experiences they've had with local businesses and services.

...the definitive local guide in the San Francisco Bay Area and a force to be reckoned with in Chicago, New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Seattle. But really, we're everywhere. From Austin to Madison and everywhere in between, reviews are coming in from all over the country!

...word of mouth marketing - amplified. Savvy local marketers now have a great channel to effectively target local consumers.

Since July 2004, co-founders Jeremy Stoppelman (CEO) and Russel Simmons (CTO) and their Yelp crew have been striving to make life better for people who love to patronize great local businesses. Discovering accurate information on local establishments has never been this entertaining. Writing reviews has never been this fun, easy and addictive!

Bessemer Venture Partners

Angel group/VC

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In 1911, Henry Phipps founded Bessemer Securities to reinvest the proceeds of his sale of Carnegie Steel for the benefit of his descendents. The start-up investment operations were spun out into Bessemer Venture Partners, which now operates out of seven offices around the globe.