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Yelp top brass cashed out $36M in pre-IPO stock sale

Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman

Six of Yelp’s top executives and investors cashed out $36.8 million worth of Yelp stock during the company’s most recent funding round, according to a filing the company made Thursday indicating that it soon plans to go public.

The biggest cash outs were made by CEO Jeremy Stoppelman and board chairman Max Levchin, who each sold approximately $15 million of stock in connection with the Series E raise.

Also at that time, COO Geoff Donaker received $3.9 million; VP of sales Jed Nachman and former CFO Vlado Herman each netted around $1 million; and general counsel Laurence Wilson cashed out about $691,000 worth of stock in the company.

The stock sales were all made to Elevation Partners, according to the filing, which reads: “In connection with the Series E Financing in February 2010, we were also party to a series of stock transfer agreements with affiliates of Elevation Partners and many of our stockholders, including one of our directors and certain of our executive officers.” The Series E round itself brought in $25 million for Yelp.

It is not unusual for executives and founders to cash out some stock holdings before the company’s main liquidity event (typically either a sale or an IPO.) And to be clear, Yelp’s top brass did not directly pocket any of the Series E funding; they simply sold portions of their own stock to outside investors eager to have bigger stakes of the company. Even so, the size of Stoppelman’s and Levchin’s pre-IPO stock sales could raise a few eyebrows — particularly among Yelp’s rank-and-file employees who have yet to cash out their stock holdings.

Here is a screenshot of the relevant portion of the S-1 (click to enlarge):

Photo of Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman courtesy of Flickr user jdlasica.

4 Responses to “Yelp top brass cashed out $36M in pre-IPO stock sale”

  1. No Victim

    I would not touch this one with a ten foot pole. YELP is a known extortion scheme whereby businesses who decline to advertise wind up with their positive reviews filtered and their negative reviews made prominent. A cadre of so called elite Yelpers, unemployed losers, are essentially Yelps hired guns who do the dirty work of defaming small businesses for them. If you look at the numbers for this IPO they simply do not add up. After all, how can YELP expect small businesses to advertise with a bulletin board which has already defamed them or threatens to do so? This money losing business relies on advertising for over 60% of its revenue!
    There are numerous class action lawsuits which have already been filed, one of which has been dismissed WITH PREJUDICE but there are many, many others in the works.

  2. Let’s consider the $800+ million cashed out by Groupon execs in its final pre-IPO round. Percentage-wise, this isn’t as bad. Still, for a company that is bleeding losses, pre-IPO cashouts don’t make much sense – Yelp is much like Groupon in that regard.