Shares of Yelp (NYSE: YELP) the San Francisco-based review Web site, soared as much as 73 percent to $26 in their first hour of trading Friday.
At the close, Yelp was at $24.58, up $9.58, or nearly 63 percent. More than 17.3 million shares traded. Late Thursday, the company priced the shares at $15, or $1 ahead of the prior goal, as the company raised $107 million in its initial public offering.
The pricing valued the company at $898 million but as a result of the initial activity boosts it to about $1.47 billion. The overall market fell slightly after setting several records this week. The S&P 500 closed at 1,369.86, up 4.12 for the week.
The company sold 7.15 million shares in an offering managed by Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Jefferies, along with Oppenheimer and Allen & Co.
Yelp's rival, New York-based Zagat, sold itself last September to Google, the No. 1 search engine, for about $225 million in a deal shopped by co-founders Tom and Nina Zagat. They were also the sole co-owners.
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) shares fell $1.25 to $621.25.
Jeremy Stoppelman, 34, Yelp's CEO, has been preparing the seven-year-old site to be public, having rejected bids from both Yahoo and Google that valued the company at $1 billion. He was VP for engineering at PayPal before its acquisition by eBay.
The CEO didn't sell any shares in the IPO. With 5.91 million shares, his Yelp shares are valued now around $145.2 million.
Yelp was financed by venture capital, with funds from Elevation Partners, whose investors include Irish rock star Bono; Bessemer Ventures and Benchmark Capital. The trio own nearly 60 percent of the company.
One benchmark initial Yelp buyers await is profitable operations. The prospectus says Yelp's net loss in 2011 was $16.9 million on revenue of $83.3 million.
The IPO was among the first of 2012 for an Internet-based commerce site and serves as a lead-in to the Facebook IPO, which seeks at least $5 billion. The Facebook IPO might not be ready until next quarter.
Fourth-quarter IPOs in the sector included shopping site Groupon and gamer Zynga, whose games run on Facebook. Since their respective debuts, shares of Groupon have lost 24 percent and Zynga shares have risen 60 percent. Several others have done better: Jive Software, a business social network specialist, have gained 55 percent, while security software provider Imperva has seen its shares vault 53 percent since its November debut.
David Zielenziger is a veteran editor and journalist who has written for newspapers including the Baltimore Sun, Asian Wall Street Journal and EETimes, as well as for...