Jeremy Stoppelman, CEO of Yelp, is in Australia for the launch of Yelp Australia. I was invited to interview him on Monday (embargoed until today) as part of a major media campaign to kick off the site.
Australia is the 13th country where Yelp has launched, with up until now all the action outside North America being in Europe. Stoppelman said that they are patient and take the time necessary to get quality data from the outset, so that users’ initial experience is positive.
In this case Yelp in July announced an exclusive deal with Sensis, the Telstra subsidiary that operates the Yellow Pages in Australia. This deal provides Yelp with the initial data to launch, plus a partner for monetization, with Sensis’ sales staff offering customers Yelp advertising options. Local search is a highly sales-intensive business, so the Sensis deal means Yelp can effectively build presence and monetize with limited local staff. It is in the process of hiring community managers in Melbourne and Sydney, where it is initially focusing.