Interview with Jeremy Stoppelman of Yelp

How I Built This


This industry has just been absolutely hammered unlike any other industry travel leisure as well. So many people go to yelp for restaurants. So did you anticipate that pretty quickly early on that restaurants we're going to get hit or did that come as a surprise to you? We had some sense that restaurants are gonNA, get hit. What of our? More Cedar product managers of Chinese person who had lots of contacts in China and was relying like all the changes that restaurants were going through in. China to try and adapt at the outset of the pandemic like this is crazy. They're doing all these things with temperature checks at the door like delivered new delivery things partitions, and it just seemed so unlikely that that could be our reality especially at that time call it early March, we were studying this and everything still felt normal but it was you know pretty soon we could start seeing impacts in some of the cities that were hardest hit in the. US. So for example, Seattle and You. Know that obviously got US thinking about business ramifications and okay restaurants, which is a big portion of our traffic are going to be hard hit. You know what can we do? We weren't going to charge restaurants for instance, for that period where traffic was following and even if they were getting some value, you know the everyone is thrown into total chaos and like there really isn't a whole lot of point to advertising. Traffic is falling like that. So so pulling together, a bunch of different things to support the restaurant nightlife industry at a time, became a big priority and ultimately culminated with about thirty two million dollars, worth of forgiven fees and young. To Support Restaurants Jeremy Your Business Model depends largely on advertising on businesses that advertise on the platform and businesses that depend on ads have had a difficult time because companies are cutting back on their ad spence. For obvious reasons, they've got to preserve cash in many cases. And this has actually pretty dramatically affected your business yelps business right I mean over the over the past year that was one of the scariest things a particularly about march in April you know in a pandemic especially as things are shutting down. WHO's buying advertise wait? So that was my great fear was you know is our revenue going to go toward zero like maybe it's not zero, but is it going to go towards zero pretty darn quickly. We had some very stressful difficult conversations around my the different potentially catastrophic scenarios. What would we do? How do we survive you know? Is there a freeze? The company amber type strategy literally was something we were talking about like where we just go down to the skeleton of staff fits a nuclear winter type of situation. Fortunately, the world did start to re stabilize and as the panic subsided, there were businesses that actually were doing even finer good You know like as all of us were sheltered at home. Suddenly if your toilet backed up, you're calling the plot a plot. Being more busier and some people started moving later in the pandemic mover traffic was doing reasonably well and so there ended up being areas of our business because we are diversified we're no obviously widely for restaurants, but we also have. Reviews and customers in all sorts of local services categories as well. Area of the business has been quite resilient contractors and and and so on. Interesting I remember when you on the podcast you talked about to crisis moments I remember was when you were x dot com and you were just Totally, terrified that I think that pay pal was gonna like crush you guys and you'd sleepless nights about that and then the other one was when you started yelp and nobody came to the party like it was really just didn't gain any traction in the in the months many months and you will really worried you had a lot of anxiety about and you talked about that and this sounds like even more intense what you went through in March and April. Just probably personally, I? mean. Planning for a nuclear winter. But in in some senses like I wonder whether anticipating that possibility actually was in a sense probably the best way to game out what your strategy would be. Because in the end, it didn't work out that way but it but you were planning for the worst. Yeah. One of the things that I would say was beneficial of going to that awful place in our minds with I'd say at the early part of the pandemic, it's hard for people to really wrap their heads around the scope of the problem how big the problem is how it's going to change our lives it just seems. Unbelievable. and. so by forcing other executives managers, etc start thinking about this, this could be the big one just so to speak. You know it gets you into a brain's base that did shift everyone's thinking to. The A big problem. We have to take this extremely seriously, and there's going to be big changes and moves that none of us are going to like we have to do to ensure the survival

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