updated 11:15 am EST, Mon December 21, 2009
Yelp may be courted by a new buyer
A follow-up rumor today claims that Yelp has stepped away from an offer from Google for unknown reasons. Now thought to be worth as much as $550 million, the buyout was reported by TechCrunch to be near completion but dismissed by Yelp on the weekend. The immediate reasons behind the exit are unknown.
Walking away from such a deal would be unusual for a company like Yelp, which while significant has received funding less than a tenth the price negotiated with Google. While concerns about independence may have affected talks, it's suspected that a third party with a strong interest in local search, like Apple or Microsoft, may have provided a stronger counter-offer at the last minute.
Apple has lately taken a strong interest in location-based searching as it has acquired Placebase, started a geolocation team and otherwise signaled an intent to reduce its dependency on Google for map-based search. Meanwhile, Microsoft has been intent on fighting Google in localized services and just recently launched updated Bing mapping as well as iPhone and Windows Mobile apps.