Why Yelp’s CEO Thinks Google Has ‘Lost Its Mind’

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Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman got really honest about his opinion on Google during a recent interview for an episode of the “Re/code Decode” podcast.

“Google has just completely lost its mind when it comes to focusing on the user,” Stoppelman explained to host Kara Swisher during the interview. “They’re doing whatever it takes to preserve that monopoly, and it’s sad.”

The “whatever it takes” Stoppelman referred to is an allegation that Google stole Yelp’s content after it ended an agreement with the tech conglomerate over Yelp’s reviews for Maps products.

“The final insult was they no longer had our licensed content, so then they decided: ‘We’re just going to steal their content,'” he accused.

Stoppelman believes Google crawled Yelp’s site in a move to index it for its own search engine but subsequently used the review in other ways, Business Insider reported.

“The reality is there are lots of people who feel very strongly [about Google] the way that I do. But very few have been able to step out of the shadows and talk about this,” he explained.

This isn’t the first time Google has been under scrutiny for whether it alters search results or not.

Earlier this year, Tim Wu, a legal scholar and former FTC adviser, released a 46-page Yelp-funded study with coauthor Michael Luca, a Harvard Business School economist, to explain how Google knowingly manipulates search results.

“The main surprising and shocking realization is that Google is not presenting its best product. In fact, it’s presenting a version of the product that’s degraded and intentionally worse for consumers,” said Wu to Re/code.

“The easy and widely disseminated argument that Google’s universal search always serves users and merchants is demonstrably false,” the study reads. “Instead, in the largest category of search (local intent-based), Google appears to be strategically deploying universal search in a way that degrades the product so as to slow and exclude challengers to its dominant search paradigm.”

More recently, Yelp faced its own legal troubles concerning the legitimacy of its consumer reviews.

In November Yelp won its lawsuit against its shareholders, who sued the company for fraudulently manipulating reviews for paying advertisers. The lawsuit, which was filed in Aug. 2014, claimed that the San Francisco-based company sold more than $81 million in stock by bamboozling its shareholders into believing in the authenticity of its consumer reviews.

While Stoppelman’s interview made it clear there is some bad blood between his company and Google, he also spoke about the challenges that come with operating in a tech market filled with private startups fueled by huge venture capital funding.

“You are competing with unicorns and ever-rising valuations and no volatility,” he explained. “Some companies were able to absorb capital and not be traded publicly, but now that period seems to be ending.”


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