The headlines were a buzz with Google acquisition talks late last week. People close to the subject said Google is in discussions to buy Yelp – a local business review site.
Yelp, which was founded by two Paypal executives back in 2004, apparently has 26 million users per month, with over 8 million reviews of local US based businesses. The site is also starting to penetrate global markets with its review service.
While no confirmed statement has come from the discussion parties, the deal is rumoured to be worth more than $500 million – which is a sign that Google is back into growth mode after the GFC belt tightening.
Yelp has been used by Google for years to support its local business listings. Google has syndicated Yelp reviews which it published within its local listings for relevant businesses.
This deal is further confirmation that Google has its sights squarely aimed on the small business market. Only last week we reported the start of the Google favourites local business program – where users can scan a QR code on stickers (provided by Google to bricks and mortar businesses) that gives them instant access to that business local listing with reviews, coupons etc.
So the acquisition of Yelp will not only give Google direct access to the review content that it feeds into its listings, but also access to a very strong and growing local business driven community. And the jewel in the crown of the deal is Yelp’s strong sales force.
The one challenge Google has faced in penetrating the SMB local market – is getting face to face with them to sell its advertising. With Yelp’s sales force at hand – this will be much easier.
That said – the deal isn’t a 100% surety as there would be many other potential suitors for a Yelp deal – think Microsoft, AOL etc – who have all made serious moves into the local space.
But lets be honest – unless one of them comes with a very generous price tag – it’s “unlikely” they’ll topple a Google offer. Stay tuned – as I think we’ll see this one finalized before the new year.
It’s seems the Google offer wasn’t too good to be true, and the Yelp team have walked away from an almost signed deal worth over $550 million – according to Techcrunch. No details have emerged as to why Yelp have turned down the very generous offer – but speculation is that another party has provided a strategy offer better than Google’s deal. More details are sure to emerge as the US starts their work week.