Yelp has exceeded its revenue goals this quarter – with earnings up 30 percent from $134 Million to $174 Million. Its local results have been especially strong with 128,400 local accounts in 30 countries, up from 121,000 last quarter.
The company has also made great strides in opening the platform and is now working with partners. With Facebook Connection as a model, it has begun leveraging its ability to act as a transaction marketplace with reservations, food delivery, requests for quotes and other services.
But where does Yelp go from here? That’s a big question mark for the company, which temporarily put itself up for sale last year. Strategically, of course, the company has long borne the weight of two black marks: 1) the company’s local sales practices – allegedly taking down bad reviews in exchange for blackmail-like marketing contracts. 2) The looming presence of Google and its efforts to cut in on Yelp’s market share.
Yelp has vowed to fix the perceptions of bad sales practices, which it always says comes from a few bad apples in its 2,000+ person sales force. Regarding Google, it has been held off to some degree by Yelp’s successful, ongoing transition to App-based services. The company’s volume of unique visitors, however, is down from 79 million in 2015 to 73 Million now. This trend isn’t fatal, but obviously bears watching.
So—where does Yelp go from here? 1.Greater expansion of the local commerce platform to include more partners and categories. 2. More concentrated focus on the categories where it has the most reviews, but fewest sales (i.e. shopping and health). 3. Laser-like focus on gaining more credibility with validated, real reviews from adults.