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Yelp reportedly gives Google a thumbs-down

December 21, 2009 |  6:17 pm
Jeremy Stoppelman Yelp 4.09
Jeremy Stoppelman. Credit: Yelp.

TechCrunch, which reported last week that a deal for Google to acquire Yelp was 80% certain, now says the deal is off-- and that Yelp CEO and co-founder Jeremy Stoppelman "has walked away from more than half a billion dollars."

Michael Arrington of TechCrunch wrote that he's not sure what "something happened that made Yelp reconsider the deal. Over the weekend they notified Google that they were not going to sell, say multiple sources."

A Yelp spokeswoman had declined to comment on the rumored talks -- although she did say, "as a fast-growing, local business review site with more than 8 million user reviews and more than 26 million unique monthly visitors, Yelp is approached frequently by numerous entities to discuss partnerships, investments and more, and the company does not comment on private discussions that may occur." She declined to comment further today.

We noted, after the original report, that Google was looking to train its big guns on the local advertising market, a field in which Yelp has had great success. Arrington speculates that Yelp may have had a partnership offer that lets it stay independent.

Certainly Yelp has some precedents in the move. Facebook and Twitter have famously spurned overtures for acquisition for even more money. And we've already noted that Arrington has been wrong about buyout rumors before.  (OK, and he's been right, too.)

The online punditocracy theorizes that Yelp feels it may not need Google. Jared Newman at PC World says Yelp already gets great Google love in search rankings, so what's to gain by going in-house? Caroline McCarthy at Cnet speculates that Yelp, which is so proud of its community, feared that the almighty Google's track record in this arena is, surprisingly, less than stellar. Yelpers, she noted, hated the idea, and "YouTube's commenters seem to come from a very special place somewhere between the sixth and seventh circles of hell."

--Dan Fost

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