— Moving beyond the underground hip

Yelp began as a 100%, natural, no preservatives user review site. With a grand total of zero editors on staff, Yelp could argue it’s the only pure bottom up city guide to date. The creators found a few cool, underground hipsters (yes, I was on Yelp early) in a handful of major U.S. cities and said; "share your opinions on local establishments and invite your friends". It’s working.

Since January, the number of people visiting Yelp has nearly tripled. We also found:

1. Page views per visitor have fallen — a sign that Yelp is growing beyond the intense early adopter. Most people would argue the relative drop in intensity is a bad thing, but we see it as a sign of general market adoption"¦ You early adopters tend to be a little "˜over enthusiastic’ about new sites.

2. Critical Yelp activities are growing faster compared to site traffic. Critical actions, such as logging in, referring friends and clicking through to recommended businesses have grown over 200% this year.

3. Posted reviews are only growing at 100%, indicating many new visitors are using Yelp as a reference point and not necessarily contributing to the community"¦ This bodes well for generating business leads and maintaining the voice of the early influencers.

Benchmark Capital is convinced and awarded Yelp with an additional $10M in funding last week. We wish Yelp luck and look forward to praising and bashing our local establishments in the interim.

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