Yelp to receive $100 million investment

Ronny Kerr · January 27, 2010 · Short URL:

Elevation Partners to invest up to $100 million to reinforce Yelp's market leadership

YelpYelp, a social networking site for sharing reviews of local establishments, announced Wednesday that private equity firm Elevation Partners will be investing up to $100 million in Yelp. Initially, Yelp is raising a $25 million Series E round of funding from the firm and Elevation Managing Director and co-founder Marc Bodnick will be joining Yelp’s Board of Directors as part of the deal.

"We have been able to grow and scale our business quickly, even in the tough economic environment of the last year -- a clear indicator that we've only begun to realize the potential of local search," said Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp CEO and co-founder. "This investment in Yelp provides us with even more capital to focus on scaling our already proven business model and we are thrilled to have Elevation as a new partner."

The company's biggest and most recent news before today's announcement came in December, when, seemingly at the last moment, Stoppleman decided to refuse Google's $550 million acquisition offer for the site.

Yelp grew a lot last year, with expansion to the UK and Ireland and the launch of Android, BlackBerry, iPhone, and Palm Pre applications. In December, Yelp saw 26 million unique visitors on its site, which now hosts over 9 million reviews.

But the service still has room to grow.

Notably, Yelp's iPhone app recently received an update to allow users to "check-in" to establishments to let friends know when you're there. This functionality mirrors exactly the fundamental purpose behind another popular iPhone app, Foursquare, demonstrating once again that augmented reality is really heating up. Competition in that niche will be undoubtedly fierce this year.

The new funding from Elevation Partners will be used to maintain and reinforce Yelp's market leadership.

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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!