Yelp just lost its objectivity

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

11 February 2015

Will Yelp favor its new acquisition?

Yelp, the restaurant review site, just purchased Eat24 which delivers food from about 200,000 restaurants in nearly 1,500 cities nationwide. On the surface, this seems like a pretty logical fit. A restaurant guide buying a delivery service so that customers can order directly to their doorsteps.

So now, instead of losing money to the restaurant, the site has found a way to capture some of that revenue through delivery. And why not? Takeaway and home delivery are the two biggest growth drivers in the restaurant industry.

“It would make no economic sense for Yelp to separate the two businesses. But it has called its “trust is our top concern” concept into question, therefore sacrificing the value of it brand for the sake of dollars.”

But, from a brand perspective, this acquisition bothers me for a single reason:

From Yelp:

“Your trust is our top concern, so businesses can’t pay to alter or remove their reviews. Learn more.

Yelp has taken a position that it is going to bring you only the fairest reviews that can’t be influenced by the owners of the restaurants. That is admirable. But doesn’t the Eat24 acquisition change things a little?

Yelp

What happens to Yelp now?

Seems to me that, from a business perspective, the site would want to highlight those local restaurants that were also serviced by Eat24. Where’s the objectivity in that?

From the restaurant owners’ perspective, hasn’t Yelp muddied the waters by almost forcing all restaurants in a given geography to sign up with Eat24?

It would make no economic sense for Yelp to separate the two businesses. But it has called its “trust is our top concern” concept into question, therefore sacrificing the value of it brand for the sake of dollars.

In effect, Yelp bought itself into obsoleteness. It is now just another food delivery service.

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