Yelp is a multinational corporation headquartered in San Francisco, California. It develops, hosts and markets Yelp.com and the Yelp mobile app, which publish crowd-sourced reviews about local businesses. The company also trains small businesses to respond to reviews responsibly, hosts social events for reviewers, and provides basic data about businesses, such as hours of operation.Yelp was founded in 2004 by former Paypal employees at the startup incubator MRL Ventures. It was initially an unsuccessful email-based referral service, but was re-launched on the basis of unsolicited online reviews in late 2005. Yelp grew quickly and raised several rounds of funding. By 2010 it had $30 million in revenues and the website had published more than 4.5 million crowd-sourced reviews. From 2009–2012, Yelp expanded throughout Europe and Asia. In 2009 it entered negotiations with Google for a potential acquisition, but a deal was never reached. Yelp became a public company in March 2012 and became profitable for the first time two years later. As of 2014, Yelp.com has 132 million monthly visitors and 57 million reviews. The company's revenues come from businesses being reviewed on the site paying to advertise.According to BusinessWeek, Yelp has "always had a complicated relationship with small businesses." Some of the disputes between Yelp and business owners are regarding businesses that fraudulently write reviews on their own locations, accusations of Yelp manipulating reviews to extort advertising spend, concerns about the authenticity of reviews as well as the privacy and freedom of speech of reviewers. Wikipedia.
News Article | March 1, 2017
SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Yelp Inc. (NYSE:YELP), the company that connects consumers with great local businesses, today announced it has acquired Nowait, a restaurant technology company with the industry’s leading waitlist system and seating tool. Previously, the company announced a strategic investment in Nowait and integrated its waitlist experience into the Yelp app, enabling restaurants to share real-time seating availability and providing an easy way for hungry diners to get in line remotely. Nowait is the perfect complement to booking tables with Yelp Reservations and ordering food for pickup and delivery through Yelp Eat24. Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Nowait was founded in 2010 as the first mobile network for waitlist restaurants that enables users to discover real-time seating availability and remotely add their name to the waitlist. With Nowait integrated into Yelp, diners can move directly from their restaurant search to getting in line via the app, all within a few taps. The service also supports real-time communication between the restaurant and the customer. Nowait is live at about 4,000 restaurants across the United States and Canada with the ability to offer waitlist functionality and front of the house management to casual dining establishments. According to Statista, 54% of Americans have eaten in a casual dining restaurant monthly, three times the percentage who have eaten at fine dining restaurants. The Nowait system replaces paper lists or handheld buzzers with a simple experience delivered via smart phone, helping to drive more business for busy restaurants while meeting the needs of time strapped diners. " Yelp already plays a big role in millions of purchase decisions every day as consumers actively seek out businesses and services that save them time and money. The full integration of Nowait allows us to provide real-time seating availability that better equips diners to make informed decisions," said Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp co-founder and chief executive officer. " Nowait has quickly become an important feature for Yelp users and a valuable addition to our overall restaurant offerings. With this acquisition, we’ll make even bigger strides in the restaurant industry by allowing Yelp users to more quickly move from search and discovery to transacting at a local business." " We’ve had a successful partnership and we’re excited to align fully with Yelp to drive even faster adoption. Together we’ll have the leading waitlist system in the restaurant industry paired with the largest engaged consumer base," said Ware Sykes, Nowait’s chief executive officer. The $40 million acquisition of the entirety of Nowait will be paid in cash, and includes the partial stake which Yelp acquired previously. The transaction, which was approved by the boards of directors of both companies, closed on February 28, 2017 and the purchase price will be reflected in Yelp's first quarter 2017 financial statements. Yelp Inc. (http://www.yelp.com) connects people with great local businesses. Yelp was founded in San Francisco in July 2004. Since then, Yelp has taken root in major metros in more than 30 countries. Approximately 24 million unique devices1 accessed Yelp via the Yelp app, approximately 73 million unique visitors visited Yelp via desktop computer2 and approximately 65 million unique visitors visited Yelp via mobile website3 on a monthly average basis during the fourth quarter of 2016. By the end of the same quarter, Yelpers had written approximately 121 million rich, local reviews, making Yelp the leading local guide for real word-of-mouth on everything from boutiques and mechanics to restaurants and dentists. 1 Calculated as the number of unique devices accessing the app on a monthly average basis over a given three-month period, according to internal Yelp logs. 2 Calculated as the number of “users,” as measured by Google Analytics, accessing Yelp via desktop computer on a monthly average basis over a given three-month period. 3 Calculated as the number of “users,” as measured by Google Analytics, accessing Yelp via the mobile website on a monthly average basis over a given three-month period. This press release contains forward-looking statements relating to, among other things, the anticipated benefits of Yelp’s acquisition of Nowait, Yelp’s strategy, plans, objectives, expectations and intentions with respect to Nowait, including with respect to offering Nowait products to Yelp-listed businesses, and other statements that are not historical facts. These forward-looking statements are based on Yelp’s current expectations, forecasts and assumptions, and inherently involve significant risks and uncertainties. Actual results and timing of events could differ materially from those predicted or implied in such forward-looking statements as a result of these risks and uncertainties, which include, without limitation, risks associated with the acquisition, such as the risk that the businesses will not be integrated successfully or that such integration may be more difficult, time consuming or costly than expected; risks related to future opportunities and plans for the combined company, including whether Nowait’s customers will continue to use the service following the acquisition, whether Yelp will be able to leverage its large distribution network to increase the customers using the service and whether the acquisition will drive engagement on Yelp; risks related to the potential disruption of both businesses in connection with the transaction; and the competitive and regulatory environment while Yelp continues to expand and introduce new products as new laws and regulations related to Internet companies come into effect. The forward-looking statements in this release do not include the potential impact of any acquisitions or divestitures that may be announced and/or completed after the date hereof.
News Article | February 16, 2017
SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Yelp Inc. (NYSE: YELP), the company that connects consumers with great local businesses, announced today that longtime senior engineering manager Jason Fennell has been appointed senior vice president and will lead the company’s engineering efforts. After more than a decade with Yelp, current SVP of Engineering Michael Stoppelman will leave the company in the coming months to pursue personal interests and initiatives. Fennell joined Yelp in 2008 as an engineer responsible for search and data mining. He progressed through increasingly senior roles and was most recently Vice President of Engineering for Data Mining, with more than 150 reports spanning Yelp’s algorithmically focused teams as well as partnerships, data infrastructure and parts of the business owner product. He has also successfully led engineering recruiting for several years. Fennell holds a joint Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and mathematics from Harvey Mudd College, where he is also a member of the Board of Trustees. “During his more than eight years at Yelp, Jason has demonstrated both subject matter expertise and strong leadership skills,” said Yelp CEO and co-founder Jeremy Stoppelman. “He has also overseen the recruitment of many of our current engineering team members. Given this and the large portion of the engineering team he already manages, Jason is an obvious choice to head our engineering efforts going forward. I’m confident he will do a great job helping the team accomplish the important objectives we’ve put in place for 2017 and beyond.” “I would like to thank Michael for his decade of service to Yelp. He grew our engineering team more than 10x, put in place the people structure and technology architecture we rely on today, and developed processes that steer the team’s planning and execution. Yelp Engineering has truly become a force to be reckoned with and the whole company wishes Michael well,” Stoppelman continued. “I’m thrilled at the opportunity to lead Yelp’s engineering efforts,” said Fennell. “Michael has built up a world-class engineering organization and I’m looking forward to taking the helm.” “I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished so far and Yelp’s engineering team has never been in a better place,” said Michael Stoppelman. “Jason is a longtime Yelp leader who has earned the deep respect of the entire team. I look forward to watching his success as Yelp embarks on the next stage of its growth.” Yelp Inc. (http://www.yelp.com) connects people with great local businesses. Yelp was founded in San Francisco in July 2004. Since then, Yelp has taken root in major metros in more than 30 countries. Approximately 24 million unique devices1 accessed Yelp via the Yelp app, approximately 73 million unique visitors visited Yelp via desktop computer2 and approximately 65 million unique visitors visited Yelp via mobile website3 on a monthly average basis during the fourth quarter of 2016. By the end of the same quarter, Yelpers had written approximately 121 million rich, local reviews, making Yelp the leading local guide for real word-of-mouth on everything from boutiques and mechanics to restaurants and dentists. 1 Calculated as the number of unique devices accessing the app on a monthly average basis over a given three-month period, according to internal Yelp logs. 2 Calculated as the number of “users,” as measured by Google Analytics, accessing Yelp via desktop computer on a monthly average basis over a given three-month period. 3 Calculated as the number of “users,” as measured by Google Analytics, accessing Yelp via the mobile website on a monthly average basis over a given three-month period.
News Article | November 1, 2016
SAN DIEGO, CA--(Marketwired - Nov 1, 2016) - Chatmeter is partnering with Yelp Knowledge to integrate Yelp reviews into Chatmeter's local brand management platform, which currently analyzes reviews, rankings and listings for over 1,000,000 storefronts across the US. This partnership gives Chatmeter the ability to display full-text Yelp reviews, along with existing data streams from other channels such as Google, Facebook, Bing, Tripadvisor, Yahoo and many industry-specific review sites. This will make it simpler than ever for Chatmeter's customers to manage their brand presence in a fragmented media and local listings landscape. As a result of this collaboration, Chatmeter customers will not only have access to full review text from Yelp on the Chatmeter platform, they will also benefit from sentiment analysis conducted by Chatmeter on Yelp's review text. This will give customers a more nuanced understanding of how consumers view their brand and service, in turn enabling strategic decision making about customer service and operations at the store level. "Yelp led the way in pioneering the industry and creating value for local reviews among consumers and businesses," said Collin Holmes, Founder and CEO of Chatmeter. "We led the way in pioneering Local SEO and Review Management for enterprises to collect crucial store level customer feedback, respond to consumers, and improve operations at the store level. We are thrilled to be one of just a handful of preferred Yelp Knowledge Partners. With our explosive growth, it's important for us to have close partnerships with industry leading content providers that are essential to our platform." Started in 2009, Chatmeter was the first local reputation management platform in an industry that has expanded tremendously since then, given the growing need for brands to have a holistic understanding of the numerous channels via which consumers engage with their business. Chatmeter has delivered distinct value by enabling enterprise businesses with hundreds of locations to manage their Local SEO and marketing efforts at the store level. Among other things, the Chatmeter service provides: About Chatmeter Chatmeter (www.chatmeter.com) helps enterprise retail brands and agencies managing multiple locations increase their revenue. Since becoming the first local reputation platform in 2009, they now manage reviews, ranking and listings for over 1,000,000 storefronts. The benefit for customers is complete online presence management simplified into a single dashboard. Some clients include Sears, Comcast, Aaron's, Bruegger's Bagels, Texas de Brazil, and Dickey's BBQ. About Yelp Knowledge Yelp was founded in San Francisco in 2004, to connect people with great local businesses. Since then, Yelp communities have taken root in major metros across 32 countries and Yelpers have written more than 100 million rich, local reviews, making Yelp the leading local guide on everything from services to shopping and restaurants. Yelp Knowledge was launched in April 2016 to license this valuable data stream to third parties for brand management and operational insights, market research objectives and a host of other applications. If you think Yelp Knowledge could be helpful to your business, please visit https://www.yelp.com/knowledge or send an email to email@example.com for more information.
News Article | March 2, 2017
Lead Plumbing, a plumbing agency that provides emergency plumbing services to the residents in Katy, Houston, has recently received five star rating on Yelp. The Katy-based plumbing agency has received positive reviews from its satisfied customers. “We have continued striving for excellence and we have been rightly rewarded for our hard work. Customer service doesn’t imply merely coming and fixing issues. We treat our clients as part of our extended family, which is why our experts walk the extra mile in focusing on the best solutions to their problems,” said the CEO of the company during a press conference. At Lead Plumbing, satisfaction of customers and interaction are the top priorities of the service providers. “This is basically how a service provider can ensure great business growth and long-term rapport with all,” added the CEO when asked how the company has gradually emerged as one of the favorites in the US. On Yelp, a widely used business directory, the local business has gradually become one of the most positively rated agencies in its category. The owners maintained that their religious adherence to the industry standards and best practices has helped them climb to the top. They also added that they put high emphasis on customer service. “Business directories such as Yelp help us in a big way to connect to our potential customers. We get a chance of finding our flaws or areas that require improvement, including plumbing, electrical work, maintenance of sewers and drains, indoor air quality, heating, cooling and so on. Besides, we also get a chance to be reviewed for each job we handle” said a senior executive of the plumbing company in Katy, TX. About the Company Lead Plumbing is a reputed plumbing agency of US. To know more, visit http://katy-plumbing-tx.com/ or call at (713) 561-3463 or send an email at info(at)katy-plumbing-tx(dot)com
News Article | October 28, 2015
Yelp just released its financial results for Q3, beating Wall Street expectations with revenue of $143.6 million, and earnings per share of $0.03. Net revenue was up 40% year over year. Yelp’s cumulative reviews grew 35% year over year reaching 90 million while app unique devices grew 39% to about 20 million on a monthly average basis. Local advertising accounts grew 37% year over year to about 104,200. Local ad revenue totaled $115.9 million for the quarter. Transactions revenue was $12 million and brand advertising revenue was $9 million. Other revenue was $6.7 million. CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said, “We executed well this quarter. Consumers are increasingly discovering our app, which represents approximately 70% of engagement across our entire ecosystem. We believe that our highly engaging app, combined with our native local advertising products that generate high ROI for our customers, strongly positions us to capture the large market opportunity.” “We are pleased with our 40% year over year revenue growth,” added CFO Rob Krolik. “We are investing in the business through our marketing programs and continued sales team growth as we work to achieve our goal of becoming the leading destination for consumers connecting with great local businesses.” Yelp shares quickly jumped 7% in after hours trading upon the release. Here’s the release in its entirety: SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 28, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Yelp Inc. (NYSE: YELP), the company that connects consumers with great local businesses, today announced financial results for the third quarter ended September 30, 2015. Net loss in the third quarter of 2015 was $(8.1) million, or $(0.11) per share, compared to a net income of $3.6 million, or $0.05 per share, in the third quarter of 2014. Non-GAAP net income, which consists of net income excluding stock-based compensation and amortization was$2.7 million, or $0.03 per share, for the third quarter of 2015. Net revenue for the nine months ended September 30, 2015 was $396.0 million, an increase of 48% compared to$267.6 million in the same period last year. Adjusted EBITDA for the nine months ended September 30, 2015 was$51.6 million compared to $45.8 million in the first nine months of 2014. Net loss for the nine months endedSeptember 30, 2015 was $(10.7) million, or $(0.14) per share, compared to net income of $3.7 million, or $0.05per share, in the comparable period in 2014. Non-GAAP net income for the nine months ended September 30, 2015 was $19.9 million, or $0.26 per share, compared to non-GAAP net income of $25.8 million, or $0.34 per share, in the comparable period in 2014. “We executed well this quarter,” said Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp’s chief executive officer. “Consumers are increasingly discovering our app, which represents approximately 70% of engagement across our entire ecosystem. We believe that our highly engaging app, combined with our native local advertising products that generate high ROI for our customers, strongly positions us to capture the large market opportunity.” “We are pleased with our 40% year over year revenue growth,” added Rob Krolik, Yelp’s chief financial officer. “We are investing in the business through our marketing programs and continued sales team growth as we work to achieve our goal of becoming the leading destination for consumers connecting with great local businesses.” Yelp is providing its outlook for the fourth quarter and updated outlook for the full year of 2015. To access the call, please dial 1 (800) 708-4539, or outside the U.S. 1 (847) 619-6396, with Passcode 40935655, at least five minutes prior to the 1:30 p.m. PT start time. A live webcast of the call will also be available at http://www.yelp-ir.com under the Events & Presentations menu. An audio replay will be available between 4:00 p.m. PT October 28, 2015 and 11:59 p.m. PT November 4, 2015 by calling 1 (888) 843-7419 or 1 (630) 652-3042, with Passcode 40935655. The replay will also be available on the Company’s website at http://www.yelp-ir.com. Yelp Inc. (http://www.yelp.com) connects people with great local businesses. Yelp was founded in San Franciscoin July 2004. Since then, Yelp communities have taken hold in major metros across 32 countries. Approximately 89 million unique visitors visited Yelp via their mobile device3, including 20 million unique devices accessing the Yelp app1, and approximately 79 million unique visitors visited Yelp via a desktop computer4 on a monthly average basis during the third quarter of 2015. By the end of the same quarter, Yelpers had written approximately 90 million rich, local reviews, making Yelp the leading local guide for real word-of-mouth on everything from boutiques and mechanics to restaurants and dentists. 1 Calculated as the number of unique devices accessing the app on a monthly average basis over a given three-month period, according to internal Yelp logs. 2 Local advertising accounts comprise all local business accounts from which we recognize local advertising revenue in a given three-month period. 3 Calculated as the number of “users,” as measured by Google Analytics, accessing Yelp via mobile web plus unique devices accessing the app, each on a monthly average basis over a given three-month period. 4 Calculated as the number of “users,” as measured by Google Analytics, accessing Yelp via desktop computer on an average monthly basis over a given three-month period. This press release includes information relating to adjusted EBITDA, non-GAAP net income and non-GAAP net income per share, each of which the Securities and Exchange Commission has defined as a “non-GAAP financial measure.” Adjusted EBITDA, non-GAAP net income and non-GAAP net income per share have been included in this press release because they are key measures used by Yelp management and board of directors to understand and evaluate core operating performance and trends, to prepare and approve its annual budget and to develop short- and long-term operational plans. The presentation of this financial information, which is not prepared under any comprehensive set of accounting rules or principles, is not intended to be considered in isolation or as a substitute for the financial information prepared and presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States (“GAAP”). Adjusted EBITDA and non-GAAP net income have limitations as analytical tools, and you should not consider them in isolation or as substitutes for analysis of Yelp’s financial results as reported under GAAP. Some of these limitations are: Because of these limitations, you should consider adjusted EBITDA, non-GAAP net income and non-GAAP net income per share alongside other financial performance measures, including various cash flow metrics, net income (loss) and Yelp’s other GAAP results. Additionally, Yelp has not reconciled its adjusted EBITDA outlook for the fourth quarter and full year 2015 to its net income (loss) outlook because it does not provide an outlook for other income (expense) and provision for income taxes, which are reconciling items between net income (loss) and adjusted EBITDA. As items that impact net income (loss) are out of Yelp’s control and cannot be reasonably predicted, Yelp is unable to provide such an outlook. Accordingly, reconciliation to net income (loss) outlook for the fourth quarter and full year 2015 is not available without unreasonable effort. For a reconciliation of historical non-GAAP financial measures to the nearest comparable GAAP measures, see the non-GAAP reconciliations included below in this press release. This press release contains forward-looking statements relating to, among other things, the future performance of Yelp and its consolidated subsidiaries that are based on Yelp’s current expectations, forecasts and assumptions and involve risks and uncertainties. These statements include, but are not limited to, statements regarding expected financial results for the fourth quarter and full year 2015, Yelp’s ability to capture a meaningful share of the large local market, Yelp’s expectations regarding local advertising as the primary driver of growth, Yelp’s estimates regarding local advertisers’ ROI on advertising spend, the future growth in Yelp revenue and continued investing by Yelp in its future growth, Yelp’s ability to drive daily usage and engagement (particularly on mobile), increase awareness of Yelp among consumers, and deliver value to local businesses, Yelp’s ability to take advantage of trends toward app usage and native advertising and to become the leading destination for consumers connecting with great local businesses. Yelp’s actual results could differ materially from those predicted or implied and reported results should not be considered as an indication of future performance. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to: Yelp’s short operating history in an evolving industry; Yelp’s ability to generate sufficient revenue to maintain profitability, particularly in light of its significant ongoing sales and marketing expenses; Yelp’s ability to successfully manage acquisitions of new businesses, solutions or technologies, such as Eat24, and to integrate those businesses, solutions or technologies; Yelp’s reliance on traffic to its website from search engines like Google and Bing; Yelp’s ability to generate and maintain sufficient high quality content from its users; maintaining a strong brand and managing negative publicity that may arise; maintaining and expanding Yelp’s base of advertisers; changes in political, business and economic conditions, including any European or general economic downturn or crisis and any conditions that affect ecommerce growth; fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates; Yelp’s ability to deal with the increasingly competitive local search environment; Yelp’s need and ability to manage other regulatory, tax and litigation risks as its services are offered in more jurisdictions and applicable laws become more restrictive; the competitive and regulatory environment while Yelp continues to expand geographically and introduce new products and as new laws and regulations related to Internet companies come into effect; Yelp’s ability to timely upgrade and develop its systems, infrastructure and customer service capabilities. The forward-looking statements in this release do not include the potential impact of any acquisitions or divestitures that may be announced and/or completed after the date hereof. More information about factors that could affect Yelp’s operating results is included under the captions “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” in Yelp’s most recent Quarterly Report on Form 10-Q at http://www.yelp-ir.com or the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. Undue reliance should not be placed on the forward-looking statements in this release, which are based on information available to Yelp on the date hereof. Yelp assumes no obligation to update such statements.
News Article | October 28, 2015
It appears Big Blue might be close to securing a big digital acquisition. Shares of International Business Machines are up slightly off the news. Let's take a look at tech stocks to watch Wednesday: IBM. The tech giant could announce a deal Wednesday to acquire the digital and data assets of The Weather Channel owner Weather Co., reports The Wall Street Journal. The acquisition is valued at $2 billion. Weather Co. CEO David Kenny will reportedly join IBM's once the deal closes. Twitter. Wall Street is not happy with the social network's stalled user growth. Shares are down 11% after the company reported 320 million monthly active users in the third quarter, missing estimates. Twitter also fell short of analyst forecasts for its fourth-quarter outlook. Apple. Shares of the iPhone maker are up nearly 2% as a huge bump in fourth quarter earnings and revenue were offset by a weaker-than-expected outlook for the first quarter. During the fourth quarter, Apple sold 48 million iPhones and earned $11.1 billion. Yelp. The online recommendations site announces third quarter earnings after the markets close. Analysts forecast Yelp will report a loss of 9 cents a share off $141.42 million in revenue.
News Article | October 29, 2015
The days where the biggest companies and the smallest startups all had an equal opportunity to build a following online have long gone. David and Goliath are at it again and this time the battle is online. Armed with better engineers and software designers from around the world, the biggest web giants are defining what people expect online. 1. Important section need to be in the text Startups may struggle at first to get a foothold, but there are some simple design techniques they can use to make their site a whole lot friendlier and win over the internet. Here are the easiest styling and design tips you can implement right away. 2. Needs to be responsive More than half the people who visit your website now are on mobile. Screen sizes used to be standard laptop or desktop monitor sizes not too long ago but now they’ve gone in all directions. Some are tiny while others are huge and your website needs to fit them all. This SEO agency in Syracuse explains how the expectations of visitors are shaped by the responsiveness of the site on the device they pick. Online reviews are the virtual equivalent of word of mouth marketing and can often lead to more customers. Ask anyone how they got better responses online and they’ll instantly point to reviews online. Start by claiming both your Google and Yelp presence and manage the reviews appropriately. Ask the negative reviewers what can be done to improve and always thank those who took the time to comment positively on your profile. Reviews go a long way towards improving your company’s performance. SEO and social media now go hand in hand. A better social media presence could often lead to better rankings on Google and this will determine how well your investments in SEO are really doing. Take the time to construct an online presence that will not only enhance your reach but also position your brand a certain way. Start by creating a business profile on the largest social media platforms out there and slowly master them to fine tune your online marketing. Search engine optimization will help to boost your web traffic and this leads to better results for your website. Optimize the images you use and the way the navigation works. Images that take too long to load or are not crisp enough will turn people away and once gone they’ll never head back. On the other hand, navigation needs to be as clear and simple as possible. Try to construct a website that flows effortlessly and leads a person from the top to the call-to-action button in no time. Remember, if they have to exert too much effort in getting your site to work, they will be less likely to visit it again. The takeaway is that there are always ways in which a website could be improved and a startup founder should essentially start with the basics to get things right.
News Article | November 4, 2015
SAN FRANCISCO -- Creating online accounts can be as easy as registering your email address, but deleting them is an entirely different story. For some popular online services, such as Spotify and Netflix, deleting your data can be more tiresome than cutting through thick cable, if not altogether impossible. But it's more than just frustrating. Experts say online companies' habit of storing account data indefinitely puts consumers at risk. If those services get hacked, as was the case with Ashley Madison, or purchased by other companies, customer information ends up in the hands of different people and organizations -- from the annoying to the downright nefarious. Unreasonable policies around data retention can also be bad for business. “Deleting user accounts for websites and apps can often be an unnecessarily complicated and time-consuming process,” said Steve Black, CEO of Techboomers, a website that teaches older consumers how to navigate popular online services. “Frustrating users by making them jump through hoops to delete their accounts is surely going to eliminate all chance of them ever coming back.” Among the worst culprits are companies that make consumers jump through countless hoops before finally relenting and agreeing to delete their accounts and data. This is a “wrongheaded approach” that companies think will lock in users and keep them from leaving their services, said Rainey Reitman, activism director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. “While this might seem to make sense in the short term, long term this will only create frustration and resentment for users who feel trapped,” Reitman said. Other services, like Netflix, refuse to delete users’ data. That’s because data is a valuable asset that companies can use for a number of things, ranging from creating personalized marketing that can be used to draw users back in or by simply holding on to it to retain accounts. A worst-case scenario played out earlier this year when the extramarital-affairs dating site Ashley Madison was hacked. There, users were forced to pay $19 to fully delete their data, an obstacle designed to keep them from fully leaving the service, but even for those who did pay, their information was also exposed due to Ashley Madison parent company Avid Life Media not fully deleting their information. As a result, Avid Life Media is now facing a class-action lawsuit. “These companies are there only for subscription growth, so they actually will do everything they can to keep you connected in some form so that in case you change your mind, it’s easy to come back,” said Johnny Won, founder of Hyperstop, a consultancy firm. Currently, consumers have few laws to protect them from companies who want to hold their data hostage or make it difficult for them to delete their accounts, said Bradley S. Shear, an attorney who specializes in social media and privacy law. The U.S. is starting to take baby steps toward giving consumers more protection, with California this year implementing "Privacy Rights for California Minors in the Digital World," the Federal Trade Commission last year fining Snapchat for not doing enough to protect user data and the Supreme Court on Monday hearing a case that could potentially make it easier for consumers to bring class-action lawsuits against Internet companies. The FTC is "moving toward trying to get a handle on these issues and to really help consumers," Shear said. Below are five popular online services that are also among the worst websites when it comes to letting users delete their accounts, according to Techboomers. Spotify requires that users message its customer service before it will delete their accounts. Dado Ruvic/Reuters Canceling a Spotify subscription is actually fairly easy (just head here), but deleting your account and your data from the service is a trying task that takes numerous steps, lots of time, patience and persistence. Users who want to delete their accounts must head to Spotify.com’s Contact page and then select “Contact form.” Next, they should choose “Account,” followed by "I want to close my Spotify account permanently." Avoid the option that says “How can I close my Spotify account?,” as it will send you into an outrageously frustrating feedback loop, and instead click on “I Still Need Help.” That will open up a dialogue box where users can tell Spotify that they want to delete their account and why. This process might take numerous back-and-forth messages between users and the company before Spotify will finally close the accounts, but Spotify does seem to delete your data if you are persistent enough. Spotify did not respond to a request for comment. Groupon is among a number of services that tries to keep users locked in by making it difficult for them to close their accounts. Cindy Ord/Getty Images For NYCWFF Groupon is great for quickly finding a deal, but it’s the exact opposite if you want to delete your account. Users who want to leave Groupon must click on “Help” in the top right corner of the company’s website, and then click “FAQ” on the next page. There, users should type "I want to delete my account" into the dialogue box next to "What can we help you with?" and hit enter. This action will pull up a bunch of help pages. Click on “I have a Groupon account I'd like to close,” which is where Groupon specifies that it “can permanently delete your account on request,” but doesn’t explain where you can make this request. For now, try tweeting at Groupon and letting them know you want to close your account. Groupon did not respond to a request for comment. Skype customer service can take as long as one month to delete users' accounts after the request is put in, according to Techboomers. Dado Ruvic/Reuters Skype was once the top tool for video calls, but now there’s a bunch of other great options, including Apple’s FaceTime, Google Hangouts and even Snapchat. So if you want to delete your Skype account you can, but it won’t be easy. First, users have to head to Skype’s support page and log in. In the following menus choose "Account and Password" followed by "Deleting an account," and then click on “Next.” On the following page, select "Text chat support," and on the page that comes up, hit “Next” again. Then on the next page, users can finally choose “Start chat.” Once you finally start speaking with a Skype representative, tell that person that you want to permanently close your account and that you want your Skype name removed from the company’s directory. You’ll probably be asked some questions, but if you answer them, you should be fine. Techboomers warns that it can take as long as one month for Skype, a Microsoft unit, to finally remove you from its service. Skype did not respond to a request for comment. Closing Yelp requires users to deal with the company's customer service, a process akin to cutting cable. Jim Young/Reuters Yelp is yet another service like Spotify that requires users to contact the company’s support team if they want to delete their account. While logged in, users can head to this page, where Yelp asks users to explain why they wish to close their account. Explain your situation and send off the message. “Yelp should process your request within the next few days, and your account will be permanently gone,” Techboomers says on its delete Yelp page. “When a user account is closed, Yelp removes any content they've posted (reviews, photos, tips, etc.) and we want to be sure users are aware of this before that content is permanently deleted," Yelp told International Business Times in a statement. Netflix users can cancel their subscriptions at any time, but they have to wait a year before Netflix will delete their accounts, unless they specifically request Netflix do that. Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images As frustrating as Spotify, Groupon, Skype and Yelp are, at least users get their accounts deleted in a reasonable amount of time. That’s not the case with Netflix. Sure, canceling a Netflix subscription is no big deal (just head to your account page, click the great big “Cancel Membership” button and take it from there), but Netflix makes it much more difficult for users to delete their accounts. "Netflix deletes user accounts automatically within a year of a user ending their subscription and earlier if the user requests it," a Netflix spokeswoman told the International Business Times following the publication of this story. To request that Netflix delete your account, try contacting them over social media or head to their Help Page, scroll to the bottom and contact them over instant message or on the phone. If you haven’t signed up for Netflix yet, beware of this little detail, and perhaps consider Amazon or Hulu instead, both of which do let users delete their accounts more quickly. If you would rather not give up your data to these services, there are a few things you can do. For starters, many of these services have several competitors, some of which may give users an easier time when it comes to deleting data. Additionally, some experts recommend registering for services using an email address that isn’t linked to your other online activity. “If you’re worried that a company isn’t going to be willing to delete your data later, then don’t hand them any data that you don’t want them to have. That could be all sorts of information about you, including potentially your real name,” Reitman said. This post was updated at 3:45 p.m. EDT to include a response from Netflix.
News Article | October 30, 2015
Mike Keon and Anthony Allen, co-owners of Portland-based Otto's Pizza, will be the keynote speakers at Mainebiz's Momentum Convention on Nov. 10 at the Augusta Civic Center. Keon and Allen, who founded Otto's Pizza in 2009, will be speaking about the convention's theme of "managing growth" and will share their experiences in building a pizza chain with 10 locations in Maine and Massachusetts. On their company website they state: "It takes more than a good idea to turn out extraordinary food. It takes teamwork, and [we] have sought out the best people to join [our] team. Each member shares our vision of consistently well-executed, uncomplicated food." Otto's Pizza recently was selected by Yelp as one of 100 "top-rated businesses" in America and is the only Maine business invited to Yelp's San Francisco headquarters on Nov. 4-5 to participate in its "Coast-To-Coast: Coming Together Because We Mean Business" conference. The Momentum Convention offers a day full of learning, networking and inspiration that will help give any Maine business the momentum it needs to reach the next level. In addition to networking opportunities, the convention features three "Mainebiz U" sessions, which will give participants the opportunity to learn from Maine CEOs via an interactive panel discussion format. Each session will offer speakers leading discussions on "profit, people and process." · Intercultural Competency: What Is It and Why Does It Matter To You? · Solving the Financing Puzzle for Short- and Long-term Growth · Securing the Legacy of Your Family-Owned Business. Following the Momentum Convention, which runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mainebiz will announce the winners of its first "Fastest Growing Companies in Maine" awards. The reception and announcements will take place at the Augusta Civic Center from 4-6 p.m.
News Article | December 14, 2016
SAN DIEGO, Dec. 14, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Empyr, the fast-growing online-to-offline (O2O) marketing platform, today announced a partnership with Yelp Inc., the company that connects people with great local businesses, to close the loop of online-to-offline commerce with the launch of...