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TheStreet Open House

Review: Yelp Will Get Your Feet Back on the Ground

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- I'm a long-time fan of The Beatles. Today I've become a fan of a company that doesn't have a song named "Help" but it does offer Yelp (YELP).

Any business that can grow sales and revenue by 67% year-over-year has my attention. Add to this the number of folks who visit its website each and every month (somewhere between 106 million and 110 million per month), and we could begin to see how the company's services sparkle.

What is Yelp? What does it do? It operates Yelp.com and related mobile apps, guides that help people find places to eat, shop, drink, relax and play based on the informed opinions of a community of locals in the know.

It offers information relating to restaurants, shopping, food, nightlife, arts and entertainment, local flavor, public services and government, active life, event planning and services, hotels and travel, beauty and spas, education, health and medical, local services, home services, religious organizations, professional services, mass media, automotive, pets, financial services, and real estate. No wonder my adult children use it frequently and tell me to "move into the 21st century!"

Yelp serves customers in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Finland, and Belgium. Yelp was founded in 2004 and is headquartered in San Francisco.

The company has distinguished itself with a global demographic who use its site to find reviews of just about every kind of business from hair boutiques and restaurants to chiropractors and auto repair shops. On the other hand, business owners sometimes go ballistic when they receive a negative review they believe they don't deserve.

This has apparently led to some lawsuits against Yelp. One such suit is, as I write, before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Competitors of businesses who are reviewed at Yelp's site may have sometimes used it to unfairly discredit the competition.

Yelp's site is a "review site" similar to TripAdvisor.com and others. Some businesses that are reviewed are not only screaming "help!" but their fighting mad at sites like Yelp, which has been quoted as acknowledging that it has to be vigilant all the time against the increasingly sophisticated ways that some have misused it.

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