Apparently unable to nail down a deal to sell itself to Google (NSDQ: GOOG) for upwards of $500 million, Yelp is taking more venture capital cash instead. The local reviews site has raised $25 million in a fifth round of funding from Elevation Partners; Elevation has also agreed to invest up to an additional $75 million in Yelp by buying up shares from employees and other shareholders.
The new funding comes just a month after late-stage acquisiton talks between Google and Yelp broke down. In the aftermath of those failed talks, there were several reports that Yelp was looking to raise additional funding.
Despite the entrance of several new competitors to the market, Yelp has continued to grow quickly. The company says that it had more than 26 million unique visitors in December (No comparable figure provided) and that the amount of review content on the site doubled last year. Rivals, however, are not giving up on a market that promises to be increasingly lucrative as local businesses shift their ad spending to online. Just today, AT&T (NYSE: T) said it would launch a reviews site of its own called Buzz.com.
The new cash means Yelp will have now raised $56 million to date, including $15 million in a fourth round in February 2008. Yelp says the cash will be used to “deepen its market leadership position throughout the US, accelerate growth in Canada and throughout Western Europe, and continue the development of innovative mobile applications.” Here’s the release.