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Summary:

Craigslist’s success in the local space has many wondering how do we cash in! Google and Yahoo have new and improved local editions, which means I don’t ever have to use Citysearch ever again. Next up, Yelp, a new start-up, that has been bankrolled and mentored […]

Craigslist’s success in the local space has many wondering how do we cash in! Google and Yahoo have new and improved local editions, which means I don’t ever have to use Citysearch ever again. Next up, Yelp, a new start-up, that has been bankrolled and mentored by Max Levchin, co-founder of Paypal.

Yelp! is a service that allows you to find, share and manage recommendations for local services from people that you know. Most online local services sites are not that useful, basically just an online version of the Yellow Pages. Yelp adds persistence and reach to the word of mouth process, which is the way most people find local businesses. It’s a marketplace worth more than the entire online advertising market at $14Bn in the US and $40Bn worldwide and so is starting to attract a great deal of interest.

By Om Malik

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  1. Silly Valley rides again: I’ll be the downer here – Yelp is too much of a me-too product in a crowded category for a start-up – it’s just going to require too much marketing to get above the noise of the other social networking companies, and they won’t have the money or the uniqueness to help them out.

    All of this is really starting to feel like 1998-99 where people put together plans around marketing concepts rather than around great products. Yelp, at the end of the day, is a solution in search of a problem. How often do I need references or have the time to plug in references? How many times am I going to give up my friend’s emails before they start getting annoyed? Getting silly again….

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  2. hey damian … good points. Silly valley… or as they say web 1.0 looking for web 2.0 redemption.

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  3. yelp’s got it wrong. they ask the user to search for something by sending out e-mails to friends. that’s quaint. as if your friends live in the same neighborhood. unlikely. they ought to go to the businesses, valustar-style, and make them pay to get listed and let the businesses push customers to sign onto the system to provide service/product ratings. that’s the secret, the businesses have the incentive to get rated: it’s part of building a base. after the transaction customers will not be bothered. zagats knows this.

    there’s another site, build on a slightly different model, called i-neighbors.com (i’m not associated) that offers this service but in the context of the neighborhood.

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  4. Besides i-neighbor there’s also judysbook.com which seems to be some sort of Linkedin for products and service recommendations within friends or the community. I think both Judy’s book and i-neighbor exploit a niche with a model better than Yelp’s. (I am associated with none of them either)

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