Trading in Yelp was halted this morning after the stock spiked as much as 15% on a Wall Street Journal report that the company was looking into a sale.
This has happened before. Back in 2009, Google was reportedly interested in buying the company for $US500 million.
But CEO Jeremy Stoppelman had second thoughts about selling “his baby,” he later told the Associated Press. And apparently Apple CEO Steve Jobs was instrumental in talking him out of it:
Q: What was it like when Google tried to buy you?
A: It was an emotional decision. Yelp is my baby, so I wanted it to be in a place where it was going to thrive. As it became more of an auction process where it felt like there was blood in the water and the sharks were attacking, it just felt like it wasn’t going to end up with Yelp in a good spot.
Q: You got a call from Steve Jobs during this process, right?
A: He was very anti-Google, as it turns out. He was pretty upset with Google. (Jobs had accused Google of stealing ideas from Apple’s iPhone to build Android, a rival operating system for mobile devices). He felt that Yelp was a great company and wouldn’t be a great company if it fell in the hands of Google.
Of course, there are two sides to every story. And we’ve heard in the past from sources close to the deal that it was in fact Google that broke it off. Google executives were apparently livid that the deal discussions between the two companies were leaked to the press, and they suspected that someone on Yelp’s side was behind the leak.
Yelp has since become a big critic of Google, accusing it of scraping Yelp’s content for certain kinds of search results, and threatening to bury Yelp in results if it didn’t agree, according to a U.S. government file about a potential Google antitrust investigation.
Yelp was also one of the companies that complained to the EU about Google’s practices, spurring an antitrust investigation.