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Ratings Game

Small business owners in the Bay Area have claimed that soon after they got negative reviews on Yelp ("On the Internet, Everyone Knows You're a Dog," December 2008/January 2009), a sales rep from the site would call and offer to eliminate the one-star ratings — in exchange for a $299-a-month sponsorship. In a blog, CEO Jeremy Stoppelman (above, right) denied moving or removing bad reviews of advertisers, but he didn't address the charge that his ad staff uses bad reviews as sales leads. We'd give greater transparency five stars.

A version of this article appeared in the May 2009 issue of Fast Company magazine.

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