Yelp declines Google's $550 million acquisition offer

Ever since I heard that Google was considering buying Yelp, I've been curious about what the once-tiny-search-engine-now-dominant-online-force might do with Yelp's access to small local businesses (ie its untapped 29 billion dollar advertising market).

Related to the restaurant world, I've also been wondering if the smart folks at Google might be able to resolve some of Yelp's challenges with online anonymous reviews discussed in this recent Dish column. A NYT article on the topic said Yelp has "raised the ire of some small businesses, who complain that customers who write reviews on Yelp have too much control over how the public perceives companies" and linked to a previous story on those complaints.

But, yesterday, TechCrunch reported that Yelp's CEO Jeremy Stoppleman walked away from the potential deal, which was in the late stages of negotiation, after the two parties had agreed on a price of $550 million plus earnouts.

Perhaps another player has expressed interest in acquiring or partnering with the company? Here's what TechCrunch is speculates:

So what made the deal go sideways? We're working on that. From the information we've gathered, there is currently no other suitor seriously looking at the company. For now Yelp intends to stay independent. We're betting that someone - Apple, Microsoft, etc. - came to Yelp with an offer for a strategic deal gave Stoppleman the confidence to say no to Google. But who that partner is and what they offered isn't something we've been able to track down.

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