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Community First: Yelp's Unconventional Approach to Local Information

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Location: Ballroom III - VI

Content is at the core of any location-based service. But the challenge is capturing the data, much of which is either unstructured or doesn’t exist online - yet. For the past 5 years Yelp has been quietly growing its base of reviews to a massive repository of more than 8M reviews about local businesses. And its recent mobile app launches suggest that the company is in the sweet spot for LBS on mobile devices.

And while some would say that Yelp’s 26M monthly unique visitors would suggest they’ve hit the mainstream, the company would disagree. Instead, they define their success much in the way they executed their roll-out market by market. Each city has its own community and by definition success is only achieved when locals find the information helpful. Yelp has achieved this status in a number of the top US markets but still has a way to go as newer cities take root. It’s this approach that has allowed the company to maintain its focus on what’s most important: community.

Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp’s CEO and co-founder, is known for being a stickler for putting the Yelp community and consumer interests first, even at the risk of upsetting small business owners, the company’s main revenue stream. This long term vision and dedication to protecting the integrity of the site has begun to pay off (accelerated growth in all areas including sales). And with this solid base Yelp is able to extend the experience to the mobile device in a meaningful way. Jeremy will talk about the challenges of this approach and what lies ahead for Yelp Mobile apps following the release of the Yelp iPhone 3gs app with Monocle and the introduction of the new Android app.

Photo of Jeremy Stoppelman

Jeremy Stoppelman


Jeremy co-founded Yelp Inc. in July 2004 with former colleague Russel Simmons. Prior to Yelp, Jeremy was the VP of engineering at PayPal. He left PayPal in the summer of 2003 to attend Harvard Business School. He joined a start-up incubator in the Summer of 2004 and left Harvard to launch Yelp. Jeremy holds a B.S. in computer engineering from the University of Illinois.