Now that Groupon tested the IPO waters and found them warm enough (stock dropped 4.8 percent, but is currently trading at $23.70), Yelp is ready to wade on in.
Earlier this week the online crowd-sourced consumer review company tapped Goldman Sachs and Citigroup as the bookrunners for its IPO. Today the Wall Street Journal reports that Yelp is planning a public offering that would value the company between $1 billion and $2 billion.
Yelp, which makes money by selling ads to local businesses and big brands, has been held back by the size of its sales force. A firm called Next Up Research pegged Yelp’s revenue at only $100 million by 2012. By contrast, much of Facebook’s $1.6 billion in revenue comes from ad sales buoyed by its sales staff.
However, Yelp has done well in the mobile sphere. Its apps are on the most downloaded list for both iPhones and iPads. And as of August, says the Journal, Yelp had more than 63 million monthly visitors. As we noted this morning, mobile ads are poised to become a huge market.
The other factor at play is the effect of Google’s latest moves–including acquiring Zagats and launching Google+ Pages. Not to mention the impending IPO of Angie’s List, a Yelp rival, which had $62.6 million in revenue for just the first nine months of 2011.
While you contemplate Yelp’s chances in the public markets, let us not forget its contribution to American literature. For example, Ernest Hemingway, Yelper, as imagined by Alex Buckley:
Zorba Express Mediterranean Café
It was a cold night and the rain was coming down hard and I did not want to move from my couch. I called Zorba Express and a man came with a gyro in a greasy paper bag. I paid him and he left. The gyro was good and it felt good to eat in front of the television and out of the rain. I fell asleep between the couch cushions and when I woke up the next day the paper bag was still there on the floor.