Standards Wanted: Yelp

Earlier today I received another link through another concerned individual to another person fired from Yelp for being human and having human needs. The corporate culture at Yelp clearly values departmental and tribal performance over individual well-being, and it shows in the ways its middle management treats their staff: you're "putting them in a tough spot" when you decide on priorities higher than the tasks they put before you.

We can and should hold companies to higher standards.

Yelp has what's known as a "two-sided market". As a startup, this would have even been referred to as their "two-sided market problem": they need users to get businesses on board, and they need relevant data from businesses to get and "retain" users. The only way they make money is by selling those users to their true customers: those same businesses.

Today, Yelp has "solved" this problem. They're a pervasive influence in the restaurant industry: a pied piper for all the "foodies" (read: would-be food critics that scathe anything outside of their limited worldview) nationwide. They're now publicly traded on the NYSE, and as of right now they seem to be rising slowly to around $20.50 a share (though their cash flow seems to be in the red – big surprise there).

As we all should know by now, this is by no means a permanent position.

As it turns out, individual users have a lot of power over these same platforms in how they choose to spend their time and share their personal information. Every piece of information you share on Facebook and Twitter further strengthens their position, entrenching them in the overall sphere of "social media". So it goes with Yelp and the industry of gleaning values from those that spend countless hours contributing to their database of reviews and ratings. The inverse is true as well: enough users discontinuing use of Yelp in lieu of the growing list of alternatives (even for other monopolies like Apple and Google) is the strongest motivating force for such a lifeless juggernaut.

That's a good enough argument for me. I'm not sure I'll miss the foodies anyway.

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