April 16, 2015

Yelp Prevails in Fight to Protect Consumer Privacy but Virginia Still Has Work to Do

This week the Supreme Court of Virginia protected consumers’ right to privacy and free speech by agreeing with Yelp that a Virginia court lacked jurisdiction to enforce a subpoena from Hadeed Carpet Cleaning seeking private information about several of our users. If Hadeed wishes to issue a subpoena in the correct jurisdiction of California, we are happy to continue to fight for the rights of these reviewers under the reasonable standards that California courts, and the First Amendment, require (standards we pushed the Virginia courts to adopt). This case highlights the need for stronger online free speech protection in Virginia and across the country, and is a reminder of why Yelp is fighting to expand the protections of consumer free speech and privacy in courts and legislative bodies across the country.

Hadeed undermined its own customers’ free speech rights by trying to force Yelp to reveal their private information based merely on a hunch that they might not be real clients. Fortunately, the right to speak under a pseudonym is constitutionally protected and has long been recognized for the important information it allows individuals to contribute to public discourse. This is also why The Washington Post, Gannett Co. and other media outlets joined the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press amicus brief, while Google, Twitter, TripAdvisor and Pinterest, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and others also argued in favor of our efforts to protect free speech.

Hadeed may still believe those reviews were not from his customers, but he has no evidence of this. In fact, several targeted customers also filed an Amicus brief reiterating that they were actual customers of Hadeed Carpet Cleaning and that their critical reviews were truthful representations of their consumer experiences. They feel strongly enough to come forward to stand by their reviews and share why they feel it’s important for consumers to be able to contribute their opinions online, even under a pseudonym if necessary. In one of these reviewer’s own words:

“Yelp is the standard place for regular citizens to post their experiences about services. The whole point of reviews on the Internet is that you can write your own opinion and other people can read that and make their own decision.

Anonymity helps people express their honest opinions and share their experiences as consumers. I know people who are afraid to post negative reviews online because of retaliation like this. Without negative opinions being available, as consumers we can’t make educated choices. We can read the reviews and either believe them or disregard them.

It seems that Yelp trusts consumers to make decisions on their own.”

Although many reviewers on Yelp are not anonymous -- they share their real first name and last initial, personal interests, and photos -- it is the right of any consumer to choose to share their truthful experiences anonymously, whether that be for privacy concerns (visiting a therapist, bankruptcy attorney, or plastic surgeon, for example) or for fear of improper retribution from the business. Yelp stepped in to protect these rights and to encourage the establishment of clearer rules in Virginia governing when user information must be disclosed.

Businesses that want to bully and intimidate customers who express displeasure with less than stellar consumer experiences should not be able to obtain their personal information without providing sufficient evidence that they have been wronged, which Hadeed failed to do in this case. 

Thanks to the attention drawn to Hadeed Carpet Cleaning through this court case (an ironic principle known as the Streisand Effect), many more consumers now know of the negative reputation this business has earned. That’s why litigation isn’t a good substitute for customer service, and businesses considering using the courts as a weapon against their customers should consider responding to them with Yelp’s free tools and providing improved service instead.

From Food Craving to Food Coma: Searching Yelp Just Got Even Better

You already come to Yelp to read trusted reviews of local businesses, so today we’re introducing Yelp Now, a new way to search on Yelp and easily reserve a table or place an order for takeout or delivery.

With Yelp Now, you can filter search results to show businesses with available reservations based on date, time, party size and the type of cuisine you’re craving. Users can also now search for the best restaurants that deliver to their home or office any time of day. Need a reservation for two at a romantic Italian restaurant for 7pm on Friday night? Craving a pepperoni pizza at 2am, but don’t want to leave your couch (or put on pants)? With Yelp Now, we’ll answer those questions for you, and get you from searching to eating faster than ever before.


Ready for the icing on the cake? The future of Yelp Now is even brighter: you’ll eventually be able to search across other verticals like spas, hotels, plumbers and dentists so that you can easily book available appointments, rooms, and more!

Yelp Now is beginning a staged rollout today for reservations and food ordering in select U.S. cities, and will be scaling more broadly over the coming months. Yelp Now for desktop and iOS allows users to reserve tables at restaurants that use Yelp SeatMe and Yelp Reservations. Yelpers can also order takeout or delivery on www.yelp.com with businesses that use Yelp’s own Eat24 as well as ChowNow, delivery.com, or EatStreet. Yelp Now for food ordering is coming soon to mobile, so keep your eyes peeled!

Our goal is to make Yelp the best place for consumers to discover and transact with great local businesses, and to help business owners connect with the millions of people who use Yelp every day.

Whether you’re the couch potato ordering food at midnight or the die-hard foodie planning a dinner at the hottest new restaurant, we’ve got you covered!





March 26, 2015

An Open Letter to States Considering Imposing Discrimination Laws

A little over one year ago I wrote an open letter to then-Arizona Governor Jan Brewer requesting that she veto SB 1062, a bill that would have allowed businesses in the state to discriminate against consumers. Thankfully she did the right thing and vetoed that legislation, thus maintaining Arizona’s status as a hospitable place for Yelp’s employees to live and for our company to do business.

Since that time, however, legislators in other states have sought to pass, or have enacted, laws that would allow for businesses to discriminate against consumers based on certain traits including sexual orientation. While Indiana is the most recent state to enact a law allowing for this kind of discrimination by businesses, unfortunately measures are being debated in other states across the country that would follow Indiana’s example. These laws set a terrible precedent that will likely harm the broader economic health of the states where they have been adopted, the businesses currently operating in those states and, most importantly, the consumers who could be victimized under these laws.

Just as I said in my letter to Governor Brewer, it is unconscionable to imagine that Yelp would create, maintain, or expand a significant business presence in any state that encouraged discrimination by businesses against our employees, or consumers at large. I encourage states that are considering passing laws like the one rejected by Arizona or adopted by Indiana to reconsider and abandon these discriminatory actions. (We’re looking at you, Arkansas.)

I hope that in the future the legislatures in the nineteen states that have these laws on the books will reconsider their actions. In the mean time, Yelp will make every effort to expand its corporate presence only in states that do not have these laws allowing for discrimination on the books.

I also hope that other companies will draw a similar line in the sand for equality on behalf of their employees and the greater public to persuade legislators to do the right thing and stop or rescind these harmful laws.


Jeremy Stoppelman

CEO, Yelp

March 25, 2015

From Keelung to Kenting, Yelp’s got you covered with launch in Taiwan




「2300萬的台灣人在很多層面上,與Yelp的故鄉-美國矽谷的居民非常相似」,新市場開發副總裁Miriam Warren 解釋,「都非常喜愛嘗鮮以及探索新資訊。再加上許多具有影響力的科技品牌都來自台灣,台灣與Yelp可說是天作之合。」



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From Keelung to Kenting, Yelp’s got you covered with launch in Taiwan

Just over 400 miles from Hong Kong floats a sweet-potato shaped island barely larger than Belgium. This tuber shaped gem, with Chinese, Western, Japanese and indigenous influences is known as Taiwan, and we are excited to welcome it to the ever-expanding Yelp family!

Founded in 1912, Taiwan is proud of its status as one of the four Asian Tigers and its reputation as a hotbed for technology and innovation. But it’s not all microchips and circuit boards. Many are surprised by Taiwan’s wealth of natural beauty. One-fifth of the country is protected land and a third is forest. With 150 hot springs, 9 national parks, and hundreds of miles of hiking trails, there’s plenty of outdoor activities for Yelpers to sink their teeth into and share their experience with the wider Yelp community.

"The country’s 23 million residents are, in many ways, very similar to Yelp’s home population in Silicon Valley,” explains Miriam Warren, VP of New Markets. “A love of discovery and of new experiences, as well as the fact that a bevy of influential technology brands call Taiwan their home, definitely makes Yelp a natural fit here."

If you’re hungry, the word to know is: xiaochi. Much like tapas, these substantial snacks can be found at hawker stalls and night markets. Popular xiaochi include aiyu jelly, oyster omelettes, and for the brave: stinky tofu. And don’t leave before getting a sip of authentic boba milk tea; they invented it after all.

Download the Yelp app or log on to Yelp.com.tw to discover the best of what Taiwan has to offer. Businesses can get in on the action too at biz.yelp.com.tw, by claiming their Yelp Business Page for free.


March 24, 2015

Yelp Platform Springs Forward: Book 5 New Categories of Business on Yelp

Notice anything different when you woke up this morning? The bright warmth on your face?  It’s called sunshine! That song in the air? Birds! And what about those lovely clicking and tapping sounds all around you? That is the music of Yelpers everywhere, booking and ordering from local businesses directly on Yelp about 1.5 million times to date. We spent all Winter helping you survive the snowpocalypse by sending food delivery straight to your door and booking escapes to tropical getaways and Napa wine tours, and now it’s time to ring in Spring with a fresh crop of partners that have made five new categories of businesses transactable on Yelp Platform!

Yes, the great outdoors is beckoning, and Yelp wants to help you answer its call. That’s why we partnered with Vimbly to make activities from over 5,000 local vendors instantly bookable on Yelp. Rent a paddle board, take a photo safari, or parachute out of a plane! If you’re a golfer (or you just really enjoy driving a golf cart around and drinking beer outside), you can even book a tee time on Yelp thanks to our partnership with GolfNow. It’s all just par for the course with Yelp Platform!

Vimbly GolfNow images

Send beautiful blooms from a local florist to a special someone (PSA: Mother’s Day is on the horizon) through our new partnership with BloomNation, get vacay ready with spa and salon treatments through Vagaro, and party like it’s Spring Break 1999 with VIP bottle service and table booking through Yelp’s first nightlife partner, TableList

TableList BloomNation collage

But why stop there? Spring is for the new and adventurous. Maybe this is the year you heed that little voice in your head and take the plunge... by becoming a great local business owner yourself! Whether you’re a baker or a violin instructor, book a free consultation with one of thousands of lawyers and learn how to get started the right way, courtesy of Platform partner LegalZoom

We’ve got a lot more on the way, but don’t be a stranger; there’s a season for everyone! If you’re a developer with a service the Yelp community would love, please check out yelp.com/developers or reach out to us at bizdev@yelp.com.


March 06, 2015

Yelp’s New Office in the Windy City: We’re Hiring in Chicago!

Yesterday we celebrated the opening of Yelp’s brand new Chicago office, our fifth in North America and eighth worldwide. Ribbons were cut, high fives were given, Yelp-burst-adorned deep dish pizzas were devoured, and local Chicagoans were treated to Check-In Offers at great local businesses inside our new home at the historic Merchandise Mart.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and local Chicago small business owners joined our CEO Jeremy Stoppelman for a tour of the new digs, which were designed to pay homage to the Windy City with a resemblance to Chicago’s “L” stations and conference rooms named after Chicago landmarks (Navy Pier, Wrigley Field, etc). More than 170 employees are already hard at work at our new location, and we plan to employ a total of up to 400 people in Chicago in the next 12-18 months.

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel cuts the ribbon with Jeremy at our new Yelp Chicagoland offices. Photo via @yelpcareers

Chicago collage

The welcome sign in our Chicago lobby, Yelp deep dish pizzas as far as the eye can see, and Check-In Offers for local businesses in the Merchandise Mart.

Yelp has a long history in Chicago. After being founded in San Francisco, Chicago was one of the first cities Yelp expanded to (and where I began my Yelp journey as Chicago’s first Community Manager!), making this community of local Yelpers one of our oldest. Now in 29 countries and with almost 3,000 employees, we’re a bit bigger than we were back then. It seems only natural that Chicago is part of Yelp’s journey as we help support the local economy.

Chicago’s Yelp employees will get to enjoy a unique culture in this open-office environment with a café with in-house baristas, stocked kitchens, a specialized training room, a genius bar and an entertainment space. We’ve partnered with Skills for Chicagoland’s Future to recruit under- and unemployed local candidates, and interested job seekers can apply for open positions at yelp.com/careers. Well, what are you waiting for? Click that link!


February 18, 2015

Yelp Gives Net Neutrality Five Stars

Since Yelp’s inception as a platform to connect people with great local businesses around them, we have supported and relied on the principles of an open and free Internet in order to do business. These principles, which have become enshrined in the term “Net Neutrality,” provide that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should treat all legal data and content equally, and not discriminate, throttle, or charge different rates depending on the nature of the site, platform or data being transmitted.

We believe that the Internet, Yelp, and our users have benefitted tremendously from Net Neutrality and that any deviation from these principles could fundamentally threaten the Internet and sites like Yelp as they exist today. This is why we have observed with great interest over the last year as the Federal Communications Commission has considered updating its Net Neutrality rules in the wake of the Verizon vs. FCC federal court decision. It is also why we were incredibly pleased when FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced his intention to seek reclassification of Internet access service as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934 for the purposes of enforcing open Internet protections. This reclassification will ensure strong, robust, and enforceable Net Neutrality protections.

We realize that the debate over whether to reclassify Internet access service under Title II has become highly politicized. While we are not directly opposed to any future actions by Congress to promote open Internet protections through new legislation, the litmus test will be whether our elected officials can at the very least meet the threshold of Net Neutrality protections set by the FCC. Anything less will likely cause more harm than good for the Internet and public at-large.  

Without an empowered enforcement agency like the FCC to protect that free and open nature, the Internet could fall victim to entrenched, monopolistic ISPs and gatekeeper companies who would control when, how, from whom and at what cost you view content online. This threatens the very core of American freedom and values. At Yelp, we value our users first and foremost, which is why we will work with other companies and organizations to support adoption of the strongest Net Neutrality principles to protect the American public.

Click here to get involved and join millions of other Americans in expressing your support for Net Neutrality before the FCC votes on February 26, 2015.

February 16, 2015

Yelp + Open Data = The End of Food Poisoning?

In the Spring of 2013, a group of randomly selected restaurateurs in a major U.S. city received a letter in the mail with their most recent restaurant hygiene inspection score. Half of the recipients were also notified that this score would be published on Yelp.




















After the letters were sent, inspection scores for all restaurants were tracked to identify any changes in performance. The result? Restaurants informed that their score was posted on Yelp tended to clean up their act and have higher scores in their next inspections.

This work stems from an open data project we announced in late 2012 to encourage cities to share their data in ways that are easy to ingest on platforms like Yelp. Most consumers aren't using clunky "dot gov" websites to find helpful hygiene information about the restaurants they frequent, so it makes a lot more sense to give them that information when they are on a site like Yelp.

We now know that when cities share their data with Yelp, restaurants behave better and consumers feel more informed, but what happens when Yelp reciprocates and shares its restaurant review data with governments?

A new article appearing in Harvard Business Review discusses this question and offers a deeper glimpse into Yelp’s partnerships with governments and academic institutions. We’re excited about the promise the early findings of these studies show and we’re eager to continue similarly useful data sharing for the benefit of consumers.

February 13, 2015

Taking A Stand Against Misleading “Reputation Management” Companies

We sometimes hear reports about “reputation management” or “small business marketing” agencies that promise (for a fee, of course) to help businesses remove negative reviews and gain more positive reviews on Yelp. Some of these agencies imply that they have a special relationship with Yelp or even lead business owners to believe that they are acting on behalf of Yelp.

These offers are scams, but some business owners unfortunately fall for them and end up paying dearly, both with their bank accounts and their online reputations. Today we’re taking a stand to protect business owners from falling prey to these misleading companies by filing a lawsuit against a recurring offender named Revleap.

Revleap, which has cycled through various names including “Yelpdirector” and “Revpley,” has spammed businesses with unsolicited messages claiming that they can get good reviews to stick and remove bad reviews. One thing Revleap actually does, it seems, is bombard their clients’ customers with surveys. Customers that respond favorably, and agree to post a review, are entered in a drawing for gift cards in an effort to deceptively boost their clients’ reputations.

Revleap’s business model is the sort of thing that can put small businesses at risk with respect to our Consumer Alert program and federal and state regulators who often crack down on businesses that try to artificially inflate their online reputations.

We hope that taking action against Revleap will put a stop to their misleading practices and also help businesses distinguish between companies that are playing by the rules and those that are using Yelp’s name to make a dollar by taking advantage of unsuspecting small businesses.

February 10, 2015

Welcoming Eat24 to the Yelp Family

Eat24 joined the Yelp Platform as a transaction partner in 2013 and since then we’ve been looking at them, well, the way they look at bacon.  We couldn’t resist any longer and I’m excited to announce that we have officially brought them into the Yelp family!

For those of you who haven’t used the service, its mission is to keep you from having to cook, shop, or wear pants. Eat24 is an online food ordering app and website that covers about 20,000 restaurants across the country. As a Yelp Platform partner, they’ve been a valuable driver of our growth in the restaurant category while continuing to build an impressive business of their own.


Online and mobile food ordering is still in its infancy and restaurant and food searches are extremely popular on Yelp. We believe that the acquisition of Eat24 will allow us to build a better, more seamless ordering experience for consumers that we can grow through 2015 and beyond.

We are excited to welcome the Eat24 team to Yelp as we work on delivering the best local search and transaction experience available to consumers and great local businesses.