Yelp, the social kvetching site where foodies love to rant (or rave) about their latest dining adventure, may itself be up for inspection -- from potential buyers. The San Francisco-based company reportedly has engaged investment bankers to explore strategic alternatives, according to a report published Thursday.
Citing unnamed sources familiar with the plan, the Wall Street Journal said Yelp could sell for as much as $3.5 billion, based on a market capitalization of $2.9 billion. Shares of the company soared in afternoon trading, up almost 14 percent to $43.55.
In an email to International Business Times, representatives for Yelp said the company does not comment “on rumors or speculation.”
Yelp started in San Francisco more than a decade ago and has expanded worldwide. In March, it further grew with the launch of a site in Taiwan. The growth is showing up in Yelp’s top line, as revenue was up 55 percent year-over-year in the first quarter, to $118.5 million. Net losses narrowed to $1.3 million, compared with $2.6 million a year earlier.
Earlier this year, Yelp acquired food ordering site Eat24 for $134 million.
Users have to date written more than 77 million reviews, on everything from dining to hotels and adventure travel, on Yelp.com, according to the company. The site averages more than 142 million unique visitors monthly, a number that could make it attractive to any number of tech players, from Yahoo to Microsoft, that are seeking to increase user engagement on the Web and through mobile channels.
Yelp went public in 2012.