Yelp CEO: I Didn't Expect To Succeed

What's the chance of founding a billion dollar business? Not high. But with the right idea, it does happen.

When Jeremy Stoppelman founded Yelp, he didn't expect to be at the helm of a billion dollar business. The odds were against him.

"At the time you don't really realize what's going on, you're just trying to make something successful," he says. "The initial idea that we had didn't actually work. We had to pivot quite substantially."

Jeremy Stoppelman

"By happenstance and good luck things worked out," he adds.

Now with Yelp a globally recognized brand, Stoppelman realizes that his business is an outlier, but acknowledges that with the right attitude, the same can happen to anyone. Though it does take a little luck.

"The odds of success can be very low--if you stay focused and persevere it could be you," he says. "I didn't expect it to be me."

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5 Comments

  • I-Hate-Yelp

    SunnyDeigo is correct. Yelp will never turn a profit as long as they fail to provide a product that paying customers desire. Yelp was created from the consumer’s point of view, not the businesses. Stoppelman himself claims the idea came to him when he got sick and found it difficult to recommend a doctor online. Yelp serves “the community first, the consumer second, and businesses third.”

    Where does this leave the businesses that produce Yelp’s revenue in this model? Screwed.

    First of all, another listing/review site is not a product we wanted. There were plenty of accessible, easily manageable resources online for us to begin with. Instead of solving a problem for businesses, Yelp creates a huge one.

    Most businesses pay for Yelp ads not because they think it will increase sales, but because they feel helpless and trapped by poor ratings and no control of their own profile data. Paying up seems to be the only way out. It rarely works.

    Utter failure in my book.

  • Bobby S

    he has suceeded at ruining peoples reputations and livelyhood while still smiling about his horrible company.......yelpisevil.blogspot.com

  • Steve Kravitz

    Could you possibly have communicated any LESS information with this article? (Hint - the answer is NO).

  • SunnyDeigo

    He has not succeeded. Unless we now consider an IPO of a profitless company the definition of success. The company has never earned a profit, not one penny since 2004. Just because he took a profitless company public does not make him a success. Ask him why so many insiders, including himself, are dumping so much of their stock. Many early investors have sold all of their holdings. No business is a success until there is a consistent stream of profitability. 9 years with no profits and you call this dude a success? Shame on you.

  • Daniel A Bernath

    SEC sent me an email that Yelp is under investigation for insider trading. I pointed out to SEC that Yelp insiders are selling their stock like the place was on fire. SEC said, "we take your complaint very seriously." The "recent" graduate who wrote this piece is another example of the Death of American Journalism. He missed a few important points and focused on hero worship.