News

Yelp Acts Like Mobsters to Small Businesses, Says Foursquare CEO

Published On 11/02/2016 Published On 11/02/2016

As the leading location intelligence and review companies, Foursquare and Yelp aren’t endeared to each other’s product. They’ve continually stepped on one another’s toes, with a long history of competition leaving both companies slightly embittered, and executives habitually throwing shade.

The most recent example? Foursquare CEO Jeff Glueck is accusing Yelp of shaking down small businesses, or asking them to pay a fee for favorable ratings on the app.

On ReCode’s Decode podcast, Glueck characterized the differences between Foursquare and Yelp as “almost a Robin Hood thing,” saying:

“Unlike Yelp -- they have several thousand people who dial the pizzeria and the bar to try and get them to pay each month -- our ratings are really neutral. We recommend the great banh mi sandwich shop or the great ramen place, we’re not biased in any way.”

What the Foursquare chief refers to is pretty well-documented: To cite one example, small businesses in California alleged Yelp extorted them into advertising by manipulating ratings. In that case from 2014, Yelp was acquitted of extortion charges, but the company was investigated by the Federal Trade Committee for manipulating reviews in that year, although that case was dropped as well.  

In light of Glueck’s remarks, a Reddit thread asks if the Foursquare CEO’s statement is valid, and a few users have shared stories that strike a familiar chord, meaning that the old charges are still kind of an open question:

Glueck went on to say “We’re helping the little guys, but we’re charging the big Fortune 500 companies.” That echoes a common sentiment at Foursquare that Yelp is destined for irrelevance.

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Sam Blum is a News Staff Writer for Thrillist. He's also a martial arts and music nerd who appreciates a fine sandwich and cute dogs. Find his clips in The Guardian, Rolling Stone, The A.V. Club and Vice. He's on Twitter @Blumnessmonster. 

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