Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman is on a serious roll. While second-quarter revenue rose 69 percent year over year, the nine-year-old social review site is expanding in myriad ways. Yelp just launched a mobile app that lets users post from their smartphones as well as a food-delivery service. It also acquired software that lets you make restaurant reservations. And with European traffic soaring, Stoppelman now has his sights set on Latin America and Asia. Always opinionated, Stoppelman spoke frankly about the company’s expansion plans—and didn’t hold back on his own review of a certain rival.
Will Yelp see a spike in activity now that folks can bang out mobile reviews?
It’s hard to say how it will impact the total number. We’ve had it out to [a limited number of] hard-core users for a couple weeks, and the data back so far has been pretty sweet.
Foursquare says its mobile tips are growing faster than your Web reviews. Was Yelp’s mobile play a defensive move?
Mobile reviews have been in the works since the beginning of the year. And comparing tips to longer-form review content doesn’t make sense. [Foursquare is] just trying to show a number in hopes of staying relevant, essentially. We have north of 100 million people every month visiting Yelp.com. And we’re averaging 10.4 million monthly active mobile app users. If you look at a competitor like Foursquare, they’ve never been candid about what their [active] numbers are.
Are you not a fan of Foursquare?
They’ve gone in many different directions. At first it was all about the check-in, but lately there’s been a lot of messaging from their side about our space and helping people find local businesses. Certainly, they can go in that direction, but they’re coming up against the leader with the highest-quality content—the one that the consumers have chosen.
You’ve partnered with Delivery.com and Eat24Hours to provide your users with food-delivery service. How’s that going?
We’ve scaled it to a few thousand restaurants, and we should get to 10,000 soon. It’s working! [Chuckles.] People are ordering food.
Yelp is making headway in Europe. What’s next?
It’s become a fairly significant amount of our traffic—north of 10 percent. We’re also doing well in Australia and Singapore. We’re looking at going deeper into Asia, as well as [entering] Latin America. The grand vision is for Yelp to be everywhere.
What’s the best decision you’ve made in the past decade?
Quitting business school and giving Yelp a shot.
And the worst?
Early on, we analyzed data and looked for suspicious review patterns in order to filter out [phony] reviews. That just fueled a lot of conspiracy theories like, “Oh, you’re selling advertising and my reviews disappeared so therefore if I would have paid you, you would have [kept] my reviews up. But now they’re gone.” We ultimately compromised by setting aside the filtered reviews in an area that’s visible on the site. In retrospect, we should’ve been more willing to compromise [earlier] on that with hopes that more people would understand what we are trying to do.
What’s the most surprising thing about Yelp people don’t know?
When creating the site, I assumed that nobody was going to write reviews for fun—that they weren’t going to sit there and write reviews for dry cleaners. So we originally built the service around asking friends for recommendations with a reviews [option] buried in there. I’m opinionated and like to write, so I sat down to write reviews and intuitively got the feeling. I was like, “Oh, review writing is fun.”