Yelp has hit the mark of maturity for a tech company: It hired its first official lobbyist in Washington. Laurent Crenshaw is a former legislative aide to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) who will be Yelp's first representative in D.C.
Politico's Alex Byers reports Crenshaw will "lead (Yelp's) Washington efforts on issues like free speech, consumer protection, and online competition" and that the popular listings-and-reviews service has been searching for a representative since at least May. The hiring was confirmed on Twitter by both Crenshaw and Yelp public policy director Luther Lowe via a retweet:
Lowe told Politico, "Laurent has been a longtime advocate for forward-thinking technology policy and has a proven track record in Washington. . . . I’m excited to add someone to Yelp’s team with a strong ability to communicate these important issues and work across party lines." Laurent's hire comes at a time when Yelp has become increasingly involved in federal politics.
Update: In an email, Crenshaw told Fast Company that "I’m thrilled to be leading Yelp’s efforts in Washington starting in early November. As a fast-growing company which empowers consumers and small businesses, Yelp is at the forefront of the Internet economy. This role is an exciting opportunity and I'm looking forward to advocating on their behalf." According to Yelp, the company's interests in Washington include ending Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (Anti-SLAPP), commercial free speech issues, consumer protection and privacy, and healthy competition online.