Become a City Expert and interact with other Google users
Are you a dedicated Yelp or Foursquare user who loves to post reviews of your favorite local establishments? Google called -- they want you. Google's new City Experts program is seeking out dedicated reviewers for its cause, which was rolled out in select cities on August 2nd.
In perhaps another sign the economy is recovering, popular internet brand Yelp is looking to make an initial public offering (IPO). CEO Jeremy Stoppelman told the Wall Street Journal in an interview the an IPO was back on the table. Stoppelman didn't say when the company would make the move, but indicated they were looking to bring a new CFO on board before moving forward.
There are a lot of reasons to distrust Facebook's Instant Personalization service, but the list grew by one more today. The issue is an exploit that takes advantage of Yelp's participation in the Instant Personalization feature of Facebook. The attack allows a shady character to get access to all a user's Facebook data if they visit Yelp while participating in the Instant Personalization program.
The exploit took advantage of Yelp's association with Facebook by way of cross-site scripting to inject malicious code. In the past, this wouldn't have affected Facebook data, but Yelp is one of Facebook's Instant Personalization partners. This means Yelp has access to user data immediately upon visiting the site. The scary thing here is that the exploit would work even if you had never been to Yelp.
Facebook claims to have taken care of this security hole, but this event leaves us even more unsettled than before. It seems we can't go a day without learning of another Facebook security issue. We shudder to think what would happen if Instant Personalization were available for more than three sites.
Yesterday we learned that Yelp, a Web 2.0 outfit based in San Francisco that assists city residents with social networking, user reviews, and local searches, turned down a $550 million buyout offer from Google. Just three days ago, an acquisition seemed like a sure bet, so why did Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppleman nix the deal at the last minute?
Citing "a source close to the company," Silicon Alley Insider says Stoppleman is gung-ho to try the IPO market. If true, that's an interesting decision, considering the company's revenues is in the tens of millions of dollars, a far cry from $550 million.
"Our source tells us investors are the ones most opposed to selling," Silicon Alley Insider wrote.
While that may be the case, it's also conceivable that investors are trying to pressure Google into increasing its buyout offer, or maybe even buy some time for other suitors to take an interest and kick off a bidding war.
What was Jeremy Stoppleman, the CEO of Yelp, thinking when he turned his back on a half-billion dollar acquisition of his company to Google? That's the question everyone is asking, but no one seems to have an answer for.
Just before the weekend, the acquisition appeared to be a done deal. The two companies had come to terms on a price in the vicinity of $550 million plus earnouts, leaving only the final details to be hammered out. And then something went wrong. Citing multiple anonymous sources, TechCrunch says that Stoppleman and company notified Google over the weekend that Yelp would remain independent.
As far as we know, there's no other company looking to acquire Yelp who could have made a bigger offer, and for $550 million, it's hard to believe that Yelp developed a case of cold feet. Instead, TechCrunch surmises that Apple, Microsoft, or some other industry bigwig came forward with a strategic deal tantalizing enough that Stoppleman would walk away from such a lucrative buyout offer.
Yelp is a social networking company that concentrates on user reviews of local businesses, promising “Real People. Real Reviews.” Yelp has a presence in 40 states, and has user reviews on nearly 31,000 local businesses. Yelp has recently gone international, with London as its first foreign location.
Google has a serious interest in establishing itself in this same general venue. It is currently building directories of local businesses for its Place Pages, and creating links to Google Maps. But, Yelp offers much more: not just the reviews of local businesses, but a social network of people active in the acquisition and sharing of such information. (Never pay for something you can get others to do for free, right?)
By acquiring Yelp, Google would also enhance a revenue stream: more business advertising. Yelp sells sponsorships to businesses, ranging from $300 to $1,000 a month, for ads and favorable search result placement. Businesses can also promote themselves on their own profile page--something Google is presently offering.
The deal’s not done. And, it is suggested that despite the seriousness of negotiations, now that word has leaked about the possible deal, another suitor might jump in and snatch Yelp away.
The Android Market abounds with Augmented Reality (AR) apps just as the iTunes apps store waits for its own deluge of such apps. Although the first wave of AR iPhone apps was expected to follow after the launch of the new iPhone OS, Yelp has shipped the first installment of augmented fun to keep US-based iPhone users occupied in the interim. The augmented reality feature is only meant for the iPhone 3Gs.
Yelp describes itself as a "fun and easy way to find, review, and talk about what's great (and not so great) in your world." In Christopher Norberg's world, taking advantage of what Yelp has to offer has landed him a lawsuit accusing him of libel.
The San Franciscan was in a car accident in 2006 and sought the services of a local chiropractor. But after a dispute over billing took place, Norberg posted a negative review on Yelp essentially accusing the doctor of being dishonest. Now the 26-year-old custom furniture builder will have to defend his comments in court.
"If Christopher loses then anyone on Yelp who writes a negative review better be careful," said Michael Blacksburt, an attorney representing Norberg. "This strikes at the heart of Yelp's business model and other websites that provide a bulletin board for people to state what they think of businesses in their community."
Not surprisingly, Eric Nordskog, the attorney for chiropractor Steven Biegel, sees the situation differently. According to Nordskog, "Dr. Biegel has no problem with people expressing their views and opinions about his service," but the question is whether or not Norberg posted a false statement as fact.
Should Norbert be held responsible for his review, or is the chiropractor getting too bent out of shape? Hit the jump and tell us what you think.