The a-ha moment behind Yelp came courtesy of a persistent cold. Co-founder Jeremy Stoppelman came down with a cold he couldn’t shake, and couldn’t find a recommendation for a Bay Area doctor. He knew that his friends and neighbors must have opinions, and in seeking a way to harness their advice like a natural resource, Yelp was born.
But Yelp is starting to recognize the need for small businesses to address claims. In April, Yelp created a special type of account for business owners, giving them a way to communicate with users privately, so as not to publicly fan the flames of a negative review. Then in June, the company purged a group of user accounts suspected of being set up only for the purpose of promoting friends and colleagues’ businesses. Still, some business owners have been left feeling like targets, lacking public recourse when they’re slammed online.