Yelp is pretty cool. And certainly pretty valuable. Google threw $500 million at it. Apparently, founder and CEO Jeremy Stoppelman threw it back. Instead, Yelp opted for a up-to-$100 million investment from Elevation Partners followed, presumably, by an IPO.
Anyhoo, Yelp has been around for a couple years at this point. But, as far as I can tell, Yelp has been horribly slow at innovating. So much so that I assumed Jeremy and his grandma were the only people at Yelp! But no! They've got pplz. Recently, Yelp abashedly or unabashedly cloned FourSquare, enabling users to check-in at restaurants, gyms and OBGYNs. At first, I thought, "oh awesome, I can check-in when at my OBGYN!" and "Yelp is making shit happen; Go Jeremy's Grandma!" Then I realized that of the litany of things I wish Yelp did better, none of them was clone FourSquare.
Yelp, you're good at cloning stuff! That's a great skill to have. But please clone any of the following companies! Because they actually make money.
- GrubHub/SeamlessWeb. Um, this is so obvious, I feel like a moron for saying it outloud. One of the most popular uses of Yelp is "ME HUNGRY, FIND RESTAURANT". How about you add a "GET FOOD HERE" to the end of that? And while you're at it, make some money on each order? Grandma gotta get paid.
- OpenTable. Um again, so obvious, don't think less of me for suggesting it. This adds a "GET FOOD THERE" to the end of "ME HUNGRY, FIND RESTAURANT". OpenTable already IPO'ed. So you know it's fo real.
- ZocDoc. This one may be easy to miss. But if you talk to my homey Aaron Blackledge at Care Practice (see their awesome blog), you'll get the dilly. Yelp is the primary source of new patients for him. ZocDoc adds the "GET DOCTOR'S APPOINTMENT" to the end of "ME HURT, FIND MEDICAL CARE".
- Groupon. I love Groupon. I think it's one of the best businesses I learned about in 2009. Groupon is "YOU HUNGRY? EAT HERE!". A great fit for what Yelp has done well (build a trustworthy brand for consumers, build awareness/relationships with tens of thousands of small businesses that they can effectively sell to).
Oh, and if cloning is too hard, how about you use that overvalued stock to buy one of these companies?
PS Osha Thai on 2nd Street=5 stars!
UPDATE on 6/3/2010: Yelp agrees with me (well, sort of)! Yelp hasn't quite cloned OpenTable, but they did decide to outsource to OpenTable. This isn't quite as good, Yelp! You'll miss out on the majority of revenue and miss the opportunity to build relationships with restauranters, relationships you can use to extract more money and create more value for them in the future.