Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman engaged in a reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) today, taking on an assault of questions about extortion, fake reviews, lawsuits, wages, and just about everything you've ever heard people allege about the company.
Not that he has any regrets about it. Someone actually asked him if he regretted doing the AMA, and he responded, "Absolutely not. I should have done it years ago, keep the questions coming!"
And keep them coming they did.
On claims that Yelp holds positive reviews hostage by not allowing them to be viewable, Stoppelman said, "There has never been any amount of money you could pay us to manipulate reviews. We do have an algorithm that highlights the most useful and reliable reviews on our site which is about 75% of contributed content. I started Yelp to solve my own need of finding a great doctor, obviously we needed to protect consumer(s) against fake reviews and spam to make sure the site is actually helpful (anyone remember CitySearch?). That's why we pioneered the development of a review filter, a technology that other competitors like Google have since tried to mimic."
"Despite the 'Yelp extorts' conspiracy meme, there's never been a shred of actual 'smoking gun' evidence (phone call recording, email, etc.) to back up the claims," he said in another comment.
In another, he said that no one in the Yelp Sales organization can write reviews.
When asked directly if Yelp calls businesses and offers to release good reviews and/or remove bad reviews for money, Stoppelman said, "Absolutely not. Consumer trust is paramount."
When a user (going by handle Professional_Fart) replied with "Bullshit," Stoppelman responded, "What part of that is bullshit?"
Professional_Fart did not elaborate.
One user asked the interesting question: Are the reviewers on Yelp your customers or are they your product?
Stoppleman responded, "Internally we refer to the Yelp community as 'the source' (lifted from the newspaper world's - protect your source) which means we must protect and nourish the community lest we lose everything. Without Yelpers there is no company."
The AMA record also shows that Stoppelman had coffee, 2 eggs and half a cantaloupe for breakfast this morning. Read the rest of his conversation here.
Yelp released its quarterly earnings report last week with a 68% year-over-year increase in revenue. Cumulative reviews grew 42%, while average unique monthly visitors were up 41% at 117 million. Active local business accounts grew 61% to 57,200.
Image: Jeremy Stoppelman (Twitter)